Cyber security: Looking after your logins

FINANCIAL LITERACY

Going digital

A lot of people say they are “no good with computers”. Yet we live in the digital age. Right now, the government and many private services are becoming online only. Within a few years, physical wallets will be obsolete. It is already possible to use your phone to pay bills and make other payments. A driver licence will be digital much like vehicle registration is now.

Although it can be daunting, there are many benefits for us in going digital. So embrace it. Here are a few tips to help you on this journey.

What are login credentials?

When you need to create an online account, set aside time so you can approach the task with a clear head. If someone else can help you, that is even better.

To open an online account, you will usually be asked to create ‘login credentials’. Login credentials are used to protect against unauthorised online access to sensitive information or resources. They usually consist of a username and a password that are used together to authenticate your identity against a database of authorised users and grant you access to a computer system, application or website.

Your username is usually a word, such as your name, or your email address. A password is a string of characters chosen by you – often a specified minimum number of letters, numbers and symbols – that is used to authenticate your identity. You must carefully store your login credentials.

Getting the basics right

You will be asked to create login credentials for all your online accounts. Such accounts might be for your banking, social media, online purchases and government communication (e.g. myGov, Medicare, Australian Taxation Office and so on).

It is very important that you get the basics right when setting up a password to protect a personal or business online account. Take responsibility for this. Just because you have not been hacked or had a virus of some kind on your desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone or tablet, does not mean it won’t happen in the future.

Create a strong password or passphrase. According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre, ……

Where do you keep your passwords?

  1. You can store your passwords handwritten in a journal or notebook, but you must then keep this notebook with you all the time if you carry a phone, ipad or laptop and need to login to your online accounts.
  2. You can store your passwords on a desktop computer/laptop/mobile/tablet/mobile phone in a ‘plain text file’ which means any software file that you can write text in. This is not a very secure method of storing passwords, as the passwords are stored in plain text and can be easily read by anyone who has access to the file, but it is at least a start for anyone who is learning how to store their login details.
  3. On a password-protected spreadsheet or document: This method involves storing passwords in a spreadsheet or document that is protected by a password. The spreadsheet or document should be stored in a secure location and the password should be changed regularly.
  4. You can make the plain text file in 2. Above password protected (encrypted). You do this by creating a password for your password file to protect the passwords from being read by unauthorised users.
  5. You can use a software applications that is a password manager. These applications (search for ‘password managers’ on the internet such as NordPass, Avira, Lastpass and many more) store and manage passwords. They can help you create good passwords too. You only need to remember/store one password then, the password to login to that software. It does involve learning how to basically use that software, but the benefit is that storing passwords safely becomes more difficult the more you have.

Due to the amount of cybercrime that is taking place, the world of file security and passwords is constantly changing. This blog is simply explaining the basics so that individuals or employees can better respect the importance of keeping login details secure. Handwritten or unprotected plain text files are not recommended but it is a start.

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