Vantage Point

How Secure Are Your Passwords?

You use them all the time to access everything from your favorite streaming service to your credit union account— but how much thought do you really give your passwords?

There’s a temptation to skip over passwords as an afterthought, a sort of inconvenience getting in the way of what you want to do—whether enjoying a television series or paying a bill. But, your passwords are immensely important, and they protect your privacy, your identity, and your financial information.

What makes a good password?

The best security is easy for you to remember but hard for someone else to guess. Consider using longer and more complex passwords, or even using a sequence of random words known as a “passphrase”. Either option would lead to a key that’s more complicated, secure, and difficult for malicious persons or malware to crack.

Take for example this password: password

  • This is of course a terrible password for your security—it takes less than a single second for malicious software to figure it out!

Here’s a better example of a password: V@ntag3Cr3d!tUni0n

  • This password is easy to remember (it’s just the name of your favorite credit union!), but it also has enough complexity to be difficult to simply guess.
  • This example is also longer and has a nice variety of uppercase/lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols.
  • Of course, this probably wouldn’t be the best password for a login into your Vantage Credit Union account—as it has the name of the site you’re trying to get into in the password—but it’s a good example of how to make something that you can remember into a complex password.

Are those authentication questions worth it?

Besides the strength of passwords and passphrases, it’s important to take time to make sure your authentication questions are also secure. Multifactor authentication—those questions that you answer either after or before entering your passwords—provides an additional layer of security.

Of course, that extra layer is only useful if it’s a layer that’s difficult to guess. It’s recommended that you choose something you “know, have, or are”—the more unique the question the better. Think of this as something about you that a Google search wouldn’t reveal. The more seriously that you take those verification questions, the more protection you add to your information.

Smart Security Tips about Passwords:

  • Make it easy for you to remember, but hard for someone to guess.
  • Longer and more complex = safer password.
  • Use a variety of upper and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and special symbols.
  • Keep your personal and work passwords separate.
  • Do NOT use a single password or passphrase for all your logins.
  • Regularly update your passwords.

How secure are your passwords? When’s the last time you checked on your security?