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16/03/2018: ten weeks to compliance - get ready

In this first of ten, weekly articles leading up to the implementation of GDPR, I will be looking at the neglected art of password management.

When I issue new passwords for email or site admin pages, I am often asked "Can't I have something more memorable?". The answer is always "No", and here is why: Memorable = guessable. The figures most recently quoted to me indicate that the latest hackers' algorithms can crack a password that is any recognisable word in some seven milliseconds. Even including random capitalisation barely slows this process down.

Using random letters, adding numbers and symbols is the only way to make a password that is resistant to current hacking technology. Losing other people's data through having insufficiently secure passwords is not the best way to encourage confidence in your customer base, so it is worth taking a little time and trouble to get this right.

Here's another question: When did you last change your password? A security advisor once told me that you should treat passwords like toothbrushes; never let anyone else use yours and never keep one for more than six weeks.

With a world full of places to put passwords, it is easy to become confused I know, but the management of those passwords is getting more important every day with every shoulder being watched over in some way or another.

Also, it is worth considering the consequences of getting your password wrong? What happens if someone steals your laptop, tablet or phone? Do they get infinite chances to guess at your password? Or is there a limit to failed attempts before the machine is locked down or even deleted? It is worth considering such security measures. With more and more personal dependence on mobile devices, where you can pay for goods and services with your phone, store thousands of people's contact data, and your email history going back as long as you like. The potential for criminals to access valuable information makes the effort worthwhile. Security measures are simply installed and well sorth the time taken.

Once you have decided upon a regimen for changing, creating and securing your passwords, write it into your data protection policy. Remember though, having a policy is easy. Sticking to it is less so, but immensely important in any modern organisation.

To help you with generating new passwords, you can opt-in to our new password generator page that gives you a personal link to set up new, high security passwords for any application, simply copy and paste them from the page. If you want them applied to your email account or site admin pages, put the address in the box and submit the form. Changes will be applied the same working day. Call or email for more information on how to get started with password management.

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