Helping Kids Develop Good Password Management Habits

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Everything requires a password in today’s world. Whether it’s logging onto our work computers, shopping on websites, or even locking smartphones, there are only so many passwords a person can remember. Then throw in the websites that force us to change those passwords every so often. No wonder we resort to repeating passwords. But what makes a good strong password?

As kids become more involved with online games and social networking sites, it’s important to teach them how to create strong passwords. Hackers can steal identities in creative ways, so it’s best to never give them the chance.

Tips for Creating Strong Passwords

A strong password is one that’s easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to consider when creating a password.

  1. Never use personal information such as your name, birthday, user name, or email address. This type of information is often publicly available, which makes it easier for someone to guess your password.
  2. Use a longer password. Your password should be at least six characters long, although for extra security it should be even longer.
  3. Don’t use the same password for each account. If someone discovers your password for one account, all of your other accounts will be vulnerable.
  4. Try to include numbers, symbols, and both uppercase and lowercase letters.
  5. Avoid using words that can be found in the dictionary. 
  6. Random passwords are the strongest. If you are having trouble creating one, you can use a password generator instead.
  7. Using password managers. Instead of writing your passwords on paper where someone might find them, you can use a password manager to store them securely online. Examples of password managers include LastPass1Password, and Google Chrome’s password manager.

Teaching Kids Password Management

Often, kids can be more tech-savvy than their parents. But even as a parent you can take the initiative to protect your family with security basics that are often overlooked by those who feel they are already up-to-date on the latest in online safety.

Let’s also not forget that technology is always evolving. Hackers are continually coming up with new ways to gain unlawful access to private databases and accounts. What was good practice for protecting privacy two years ago may not be the best way to go about it today.

1. Remote data wiping technology

Even if you do everything right cybersecurity-wise, what’s stopping you from misplacing or losing your device? Many people tend to be forgetful. So, if you are not sure where your phone is (especially if you suspect someone has snatched it right out of your pocket), deleting your data before it gets into the wrong hands is a wise course of action. Remote data wiping technology is an insurance policy in this regard.

If you have important information you want to save, you will want to set up some sort of online backup to a cloud account. This way you can easily restore your device if you wipe it clean. Of course, make sure your online backup account also has a strong password.

 Two-factor authentication: Malware programs can steal your passwords right from under your nose. With two-factor authentication, you can greatly increase the protection of your accounts. Two-factor authentication asks anyone logging in to perform an extra step (like entering a PIN from a confirmation SMS) before granting access to an account. It can restrict access in case of a data breach or stolen password.

Password variations that use the same core are a terrible idea: Never underestimate the creative mind of a hacker. If they can get close to guessing your second password based on another, it won’t take long before they succeed. Randomly generated passwords are a much better idea than different variations of the same password.

The importance of changing passwords often: Encouraging your kids to change their passwords regularly is a good cybersecurity practice. But it also tends to be forgotten, especially when many accounts do not require changing the password regularly. Again, with a password manager, having to remember a whole new batch of passwords becomes a non-issue.

No matter your age or expertise, the creation of a good strong password is often taken for granted. Whether it’s a social media account, a website for online shopping, your online banking access – or an app on your phone, each one of your accounts is an online profile of you that’s worth protecting in as many ways that are available.

Let’s face it: the future is now. We are already living in a cyber society, so we need to stop ignoring it or pretending that is not affecting us”. – Marco Ciapelli

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