Creating a Secure Password

We get asked a lot of questions about passwords and why when we change them people think they might be somewhat obscure. Hopefully I can answer a few of these questions with the information below:

What is a secure password?

Simply put a secure password is difficult/impossible to guess, unique to the system it is protecting and not shared with anyone.

What makes a password secure?

There are a number of things that can make a password more secure some general rules are:

  • Make it at least 8 characters long, longer if you are happy to do so!
  • Make sure it includes a mix of the following:
  • Does include upper and lower case letters.
  • Does include numbers.
  • Does include special characters (e.g. ? ! # @)

Why use a secure password?

People are trying to access your data, FACT, and those people using poor passwords will have their data compromised at some point, another FACT, using a secure password decreases the chances of you data being compromised. It is as simple as that!

What is an example of a secure password?

A good way to create a strong and memorable password is to use three random words. Numbers and symbols can still be used if needed, for example 3redwaTerMonkeys27!

Be creative and use words memorable to you, so that people can’t guess your password. Your social media accounts can give away vital clues about yourself so don’t use words such as family names or favourite sports team which are easy to guess.  Cyber criminals know many of the simple substitutions we use such as ‘Pa55word!” which swaps numbers for letters so there is no point in doing that.

Never use the following personal details for your password:

  • Family members’ names
  • Pets’ names
  • Place or date of birth
  • Favourite holidays
  • Something related to your favourite sports team

If you are not speaking to your IT Support provider about this, why not give us a ring?

James Reed
Technical Director

Windows 7 – End of Support

Microsoft will end support of the Windows 7 operating system on 14th January 2020. This means that after that date they will no longer provide technical support and automatic updates, including security patches, for Windows 7. 

Their recommendation is that anybody still using a Windows 7 PC should move to Windows 10 before that date. 

By continuing to use Windows 7 after 14th January 2020 you will be making your PC, network and therefore your data vulnerable to cyber security risks.  

What are my options? 

  • Upgrade using an existing licence. Some PCs came with disks for both Windows 7 and Windows 8, some came with Windows 10 as well. If that is the case, it is possible to rebuild the PC with either Windows 8 or Windows 10 without having to buy a new licence. 
  • Upgrade using a new licence. If you don’t have disks that came with your PC for Windows 8 or 10 you could buy a licence for Windows 10 and have the PC rebuilt with that. Unless you are a charity and can get the licence cheaply this is likely to be an expensive way to extend the life of an old PC. 
  • Replace the PC. You can plan to replace your Windows 7 PCs with new hardware that will come with Windows 10. Windows 10 together with new PC hardware will start up and run faster and is designed to be secure. 

The move away from Windows 7 could be a bigger project even than the move from Windows XP five years ago. According to netmarketshare.com who report on IT statistics, the number of people using Windows 10 eventually overtook Windows 7 in late 2018, but as at January 2019 37% of people are still using Windows 7. The problem, as ever, is that people using Windows 7 don’t see what’s wrong with it. However, it was released in 2009 and will be over 10 years old when support is withdrawn. Since then the cyber threat landscape has changed immeasurably and Microsoft are promoting the move to Windows 10 as the best step. 

Make sure the requirement to remove all Windows 7 PCs from your network by 14th January 2020 does not come as a surprise by taking the following steps: 

  • Know your PCs – make sure you know how many Windows 7 PCs you have in your network 
  • Know your options – can you upgrade or will you have to replace. You might have some or all of the older PCs already planned to be replaced due to their age. 
  • Plan the project – Don’t leave it until December. Budget for it and plan to start as soon as you can. 

Remember that after January 2020 there will be no security updates for Windows 7. You now know that and so do all the hackers. February 2020 will be a busy month for them. 

If you are not speaking to your IT Support provider about this, why not give us a ring? 

David Hewett
Managing Director