Firstly, your privacy and reputation is at stake, intruders may gain access to your email, bank account, and other sensitive information, additionally your identity may be stolen. Your email can be used to send defamatory messages in your name and your computer can be used to host illegal materials. Hackers could also use your computer to attack other computers. The use of strong passwords is therefore essential in order to protect your security and identity.

The best security in the world is useless if a malicious person has a legitimate user name and password. As long as someone can log into your account, they can read your emails and transfer money out of your bank account. Stealing passwords and filing fraudulent returns is a multi-billion euro industry for cyber criminals.

How can your password be stolen?

There are many common activities that can lead to risk of having a password stolen by online or real-life criminals.

1. Using the same password on multiple websites.

2. Not resetting passwords and security questions regularly.

3. Downloading unfamiliar software from the internet.

4. Clicking on links in email messages.

5. Writing down your password.

6. Sharing your password with others.

7. Falling victim to a phishing attack.

How can you prevent your password from being stolen?

1. Use a different password for every website. If you have only one password, a criminal simply has to break it to gain access to everything.

2. If you use Google make sure to enable 2-Step verification. This adds an extra layer of security to your Google Account. In addition to your username and password, you can enter a code that Google will send you via text or voice message upon signing in. That makes it difficult for someone to guess your password.

3. Do not recycle passwords.

4. If you must write passwords down in order to remember them, encrypt them in a way that is familiar to you but makes them indecipherable by others.

5. Choose a password with at least eight characters, more if you can, as longer passwords are harder for criminals to guess or break. A combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and keyboard symbols– a variation of spiderman, with letters, numbers, upper and lower case recommendations, and ensure the one you choose is secure and reputable.

6. Do not send your password by email.

7. Don't use birthdays, addresses, phone number or common dictionary words.

Are you or your business at risk of being hacked and having your information stolen?

When we hear about web security breaches, it's often in the context of recognisable names. However, there are digital disasters on a less publicised basis that also entangle mid-sized companies and small businesses that have been breached in one way or another within the past year. The reasons that hackers and data thieves target such outfits are simple fundamentally, smaller providers and operators are easier targets.

82% of businesses believe they do not have anything worth stealing, but what they are misinformed about is, businesses do have information that is valuable on the digital black market. Some of the most prized confidential data includes:

1. Client lists

2. Customer databases

3. Financial details

4. Pricing information

5. Product designs

6. Manufacturing processes

7. Internal correspondence

Not all breaches will lead to identity theft or credit card fraud or even extra spam and phishing emails. However, what troubles people the most is somebody without your permission has your personal information and they may strike at any time.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.