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What’s in a password?

Your security, that’s what.

These days, passwords are an everyday part of life. Computers are everywhere – in our phones, televisions, even our refrigerators - and your computers need to be protected; not everyone should be able to access your workplace desktop, or the records of how often you open your fridge in the middle of the night to eat slice after slice of cake. (Yes, your smart fridge will record that.) Until science invents cheap retina scanning or DNA recognition tech, getting access to a computer will mean using some kind of password.

Just have a think about your passwords for a moment. How many do you use? How often do you change them? How often do you forget them?

There’s loads of information on your laptop, desktop, smartphone, email and social media accounts - information you don’t always think about but that needs to be kept safe. These things include banking or credit information, GPS data gathered through your smartphone, scans of documents like passports or contracts, National Insurance Numbers, personal correspondence and more. Most people don’t appreciate how much critical information can be stored casually on a computer. If that computer is connected to the internet, the danger increases massively.

Want to know something even scarier? The passwords used by the vast majority of people are ridiculously simple. Business Insider recently reported that the top 20 most commonly used passwords are very weak, from number combinations like ‘123456’ to letter combinations like ‘qwerty’. People that use such passwords are very vulnerable to hacking. Today’s brute-force cracking software and hardware can unscramble these passwords in seconds. If that doesn’t make you want to change every single password you have to ones containing capitals, symbols, numbers and references to 16th-century French history, I don’t know what will.

Replacing weak passwords with strong ones can help prevent the disastrous consequences of hacking and identity theft. You can do so by following some general rules of thumb, such as

  • Avoiding any obvious series of numbers, like 12345 or 09876,
  • Never simply using the word ‘password’,
  • Not using any personal information, like your birthday, anniversary, address or pet names,
  • Using combinations of all the different characters, such as lowercase letters (asdf), numbers (12345), symbols (%^&*), uppercase letters (ASDF) and ambiguous characters (<>?{}), or
  • Adding spaces if you can remember them.

Think about it: if you were a hacker, which password are you more likely to crack when trying to break into someone’s files: ‘GtvdwN9zb}]s6Y;)’ or ‘1234’?

I’ll let you decide.

If you’re having a hard time coming up with something suitably uncrackable, there are password generators that you can use to secure your data. Change your passwords and PINs often (i.e. every few months) and educate yourself about what can happen if you don’t keep your data safe. Don’t make it easy for potential info-snatchers.

TQUK, in order to comply with the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), has taken measures to secure all our data. We change passwords constantly and have stringent requirements regarding access to our customers’ data, including how we process it and who we share data with. The integrity of our data and the privacy of our customers are of the utmost importance.

To learn more, visit our blog outlining our data protection policies. Have a question? Email our Data Manager, Tom Costigan, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

See you out there!