Safety first: the short, simple guide to securing all your passwords | Technology

It feels like it comes round earlier every year. Yes, today is bad password day, your annual reminder that you should install a password manager and randomise your passwords, lest you end up mocked in the national press for securing your precious secrets behind the unhackable protection of “passw0rd!”.

The prompt this time is the annual report of the National Cyber Security Centre, a GCHQ subsidiary tasked with defending Britain’s online infrastructure.

Based on information first published in April, the NCSC has revealed the passwords that put you most at risk of being hacked. These include popular names (Ashley and Michael), fictional characters (Superman and Naruto) and Premier League football teams (Liverpool and Chelsea). If yours is on that list, you should change it right now.

How can I find out if my password has been compromised?

The ultimate source of information, security website, is a useful resource. Simply type in your email address and it will tell you whether it is linked to any known data breaches. And … it has probably been hacked from somewhere.

Should I use a password manager?

By far the most safe and secure way to protect your accounts is with a password manager and randomised passwords. All modern web browsers will do this for you if you let them. If you want something a bit more powerful that works across platforms, you can try 1Password or LastPass for free.

Should I use the same password more than once?

The single most dangerous thing a typical user can do online is reuse passwords, because they turn one data breach into many. The problem isn’t that people can’t generate a good password: it’s that no one can remember the hundreds of passwords they need in modern life, and so inevitably, they reuse the same ones.

How can I make sure my password is really secure?

You could spend time securing your account further by installing Authy and enabling two-factor authentication, for instance, or by signing up for free breach monitoring at Have I Been Pwned.

But the one thing to stop worrying about is trying to pick a memorable password. In fact, if you can remember your password at all, you are probably doing it wrong.

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