Deirdre Clune MEP. Photo: Diane Cusack

Time to change your password?

Is your password as safe as it could be? People in Cork are being encouraged to mark World Data Protection Day with a password “spring clean”.

Tomorrow, Friday, marks the 16th annual Data Protection Day, an event held globally to raise awareness around the right to data protection.

According to the EU Science Hub, European Commission's science and knowledge service, a strong password benefits from the following list of suggestions: • The longer the better, as a rule of thumb • Don’t use obvious references such as names, important dates, locations, etc. • Randomness is unpredictable therefore secure • Mixing letters, numbers and special characters strengthens the password • Passphrases, series of unrelated, random words, are easy to remember and hard to guess

The service also recommends that a different password should be for every digital service. This means that if the password for one service is compromised, others with remain secure.

Another highly recommended practice is to consider two factor authentication for important services such as online banking. Two factor banking means that, even if someone obtains a password, they will still not be able to access the service in question. It is also advised not to use answers to personal questions for password recovery and to never use a password manager to generate and store your passwords.

Speaking this week, Cork MEP Deirdre Clune urged Leesiders to consider updating passwords to help keep digital information private. She said: “With spring around the corner, many will be considering tackling areas they forgot during the rest of the year. Data Protection Day is an ideal time to consider updating your passwords.”

According to MEP Clune, a recent Eurobarometer survey found that four out of five EU citizens are concerned about their online privacy and security.

She said: “It can be difficult to figure out if someone else is accessing your accounts. By changing passwords, you reduce the risk that others can see your data.”

MEP Clune, a member of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee added: “Computers, smartphones and the Internet are crucial parts of our way of life, but online safety is essential and looking after your personal data is a great habit to get into.”

For more information on password security, visit where a free tool for testing password strength is available to download.