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#CyberSecurity: When did you last change your password?

Delhi Police DCP (Southwest) Gaurav Sharma recently tweeted about the importance of changing passwords regularly. While netizens reason why they don’t change their passwords so frequently, experts talk about how cyber security should be made a priority.
Experts say one must avoid keeping passwords that have basic information about the individual such as the name of the user or mobile number. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Published on Oct 21, 2021 01:45 PM IST
ByAnjuri Nayar Singh, New Delhi

Online shopping for festivals is taking place in full swing, for many! And why not, for pre-Diwali is the time when one lets loose all restrictions on budget to enjoy the festivities. But, give it a pause and think and reply: When did you change your account password last? If the answer is taking a long time to come to you, then know that your accounts aren’t as secure as your believe them to be!

Cyber crime cases have sure risen in the pandemic times. And recently, Gaurav Sharma, DCP (Southwest), Delhi Police, tweeted how important it is to change the passwords regularly, and not to use one’s mobile number or easy codes such as 0000, as your password. Sharma says, “The most important thing is whether you change your password or not, don’t, ever, share it with anyone! Many of us have the habit of delegating things... we give our card to someone and ask them to do a transaction on our behalf. That need to stop! When everything can be managed with a mobile phone, there’s no need to make a cash transaction. Senior citizens ask their servants to make these transactions for them, and this needs to stop too. To make it easier, you can make a set of 2-3 passwords that are interchangeable; so that if you forget one, you can check the second and third. One of them will click!”

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Why netizens avoid changing passwords frequently?

Can’t remember!

There is a lot of confusion when you change your password, says Sonali Kutariyar, a Noida-based banker. “It’s always difficult to remember a new password. In the bank, we need to change password just to mitigate risk of cyber fraud every two weeks. Like in our organisation, there is multi-factor authentication that leads to remembering many passwords at a same time, which creates chaos. So for personal things I tend to keep an easy password so that I remember it. But yes, if attackers crack a password, it’s easy for them to crack the next password because the person will keep almost similar passwords (in most cases),” she adds.

Different combos are like Maths sum

Shubhangi Jeswal, a dance teacher from Noida fails to wrap her head around all the mandates that a password demands on varied websites. “Most of the apps want specific passwords that include special characters, numbers, uppercase and lowercase and what not. Getting this combination right is at times like solving a Maths problem! It’s so tough to meet all these password requirements for every single app. And every time I try to make a new password, it takes several attempts to finally get it right. So now I’ve one password that I feel is strong, and works for everything,” she says.

Autofill saves the day

“When everything is fed in the phone, it gets so easy to use your accounts,” says Bhavna Bansal, an IT professional from Naraina, adding: “I keep same passwords for a lot of accounts because my memory isn’t that good to remember all different ones. And though I do want to organise my passwords as per the accounts like different for shopping and different for office or banking apps. But, I will have to do it manually, and if god forbid I don’t remember what I had put in, then it’s a whole process to get to get out of that game called — forgot password!”

The two-step authentication verification code message on smartphones ensures secure log in or sign in. (Photo: Shutterstock)

What do the experts say?

‘Understand the consequences’

It’s a human mentality to avoid change, says Dr Imran Noorani, consultant chief psychologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. He adds, “It has to do with not understanding how important the issue is. People have to understand the consequences. For any human mind, they do only that what they feel is important and will fetch them something. A person who has faced an issue will tell the others about the seriousness. Otherwise, changing passwords is an added burden for them. It becomes difficult for humans to adapt to change.”

Safety vault password as 123456?

KPS Malhotra, DCP (cyber, special cell), Delhi Police, says people must be very careful nowadays as everything is connected to your bank account. “Will you keep the password of your safety vault at home as 123456? No, right? So you also need to value your cyber safety and security. Most of the things today are linked to our banking credentials and other important information. Giving easy access to such information can lead to major troubles, both on the financial and personal fronts. Guard your cyber credentials well and be safe online and in life,” he says.

Try holiday spot instead of DOB

Suggesting how to create an easy yet effective password, Ankur Tripathi, an associate director with MNC, says that a combination of some rules need to be followed while making your password. He says, “It’s important to not use your date of birth, name, or a pattern like 123 or common passwords like 0000 or your phone number. It’s best to use a combination of uppercase characters, lower case characters and special characters with length of at least 10 characters. These characters could be anything but not your basic information. Like you can maybe put your favourite holiday spot like this: MAldives@666.”

So now when you log into your account, do make it secure by ensuring that its password has been recently changed!

Author tweets @anjuri

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