Get password smart!

Are you password smart?

These days, we access and share some of our most important information online—about ourselves, our family and our finances. Keeping in touch via email and social media, and managing more of our finances online, does make life easier but it can also open us up to cyber attacks.

What’s a cyber attack?

Imagine if someone accessed your bank account and helped themselves to your retirement fund, or pretended to be you and sent messages to your friends and family via Facebook or email asking for money. These are examples of a cyber attack, where an attacker has found out how to login to your email, bank or social media account.

These types of attack are happening more often, and as they can happen to anyone with online accounts, it’s important to improve your cyber security and protect your information. This sounds scary, and it can feel overwhelming thinking about how to secure yourself online, but it doesn’t need to. The easiest thing to do is to get password smart.

Being password smart is simple. It’s about having strong, unique and secure passwords for each of your accounts. This makes it difficult for attackers to guess passwords and access all of your accounts. Here’s what to do:

1. Create strong passwords

Long passwords are strong passwords.

Use four or more words to make up your passwords. Not only will this be easier to remember, it’s as strong as a password that uses a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. Use a sentence or fun phrase that is unique to you. For example, popcornwithbutterisbest

2. Use unique passwords

This means using a different password for each of your online accounts.

That way, if an attacker gets hold of one of your passwords, they won’t get access to all of your accounts. Start creating new passwords for your most important accounts first—like your email, banking and social media accounts.

3. Keep your passwords a secret.

Store your passwords somewhere safe.

We all struggle to remember multiple passwords. It’s OK to write them down—just make sure you keep them somewhere safe, separate from your computer and mobile phone. A password manager is another option as you’ll only need to remember one password for all of your online accounts.

Protect yourself, your family and your finances—get password smart.

For more information, visit www.cert.govt.nz/password-smart

CERT NZ is here to improve cyber security in New Zealand. CERT NZ works alongside other government agencies and organisations — both locally and internationally — to help New Zealand better understand and stay resilient to cyber security threats.