Securing your passwords online

We spend a lot of time online and don’t often think about the risks involved. Yet if we are not careful, we can make ourselves vulnerable to criminal activity such as hacking, phishing, and identity theft.

The annual Cyber Threat Report announced in 2023 a 23% year-on-year increase in cybercrimes in Australia, amounting to a cybercrime reported every six minutes.i And according to the recent Cybercrime in Australia report also published in 2023, 47% of survey respondents experienced at least one cybercrime that year, with half of all victims experiencing more than one instance.ii

One of the simplest ways to protect yourself online is to ensure you have secure login credentials and to update your passwords regularly. So, if you haven’t updated your passwords for some time, below are some tips to ensuring stay secure online.

Securing your passwords online

Stronger password security

Vary your passwords

The most common vulnerability is passwords. We have passwords for many things we do online, protecting our bank accounts, inboxes, and social media accounts to name just a few.

With the need for so many passwords, it’s easy to see why we often become complacent and choose the same one for multiple accounts. A 2019 Google/Harris Poll study found that 52% of respondents use the same password for multiple accounts and 13% reuse the same password for all their accounts.iii Not only does this put your accounts at risk of being compromised, using the same password can lead to hackers utilising your credentials as a way of identifying as you.

Get creative

It’s no surprise that the most common passwords are 123456 and admin– they are easy to remember, however they are also easy for anyone to guess.iv

Choose a password that’s at least 12 characters long with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Some sites will need you to do this when you sign up, and it is good practice even when not required. Avoid using easily guessed information like birthdays, names, or common words (such as user or password).

Password management

Remembering your passwords, especially those which are a unique combination of letters and numbers, can be tricky. Use a centralised password management system to record passwords. There are many to choose from so look out for ones that are encrypted with a strong algorithm to prevent hacking.

Use 2-step verification

Another way to strengthen online security is to use 2-step verification. This adds additional security by asking you for further details, such as a number sent to you as a text message or email, or using an authenticator application to verify your identity when you log-in.

More ways to keep safe online

Using anti-virus software is wise as it’s designed to provide protection against the latest viruses and other types of malware. It updates automatically so you don’t need to worry as much about having to be on top of the latest cyber threats. It’s also worthwhile backing up any important data.

Not all our interactions online are protected, so be sure to use secure networks and be careful about public Wi-Fi, such as the one you might use in a café, airport, or library. Public Wi-Fi is convenient, however if you are using websites that aren’t encrypted, this information is at risk. Look out for the lock symbol near your browser’s location field and check that the site address starts with ‘https’ rather than ‘http’ to be on the safe side.

Lastly, it’s the simplest solution but one that bears mentioning – keep your personal information private. Don’t share your log-in information unless absolutely necessary and don’t display your passwords somewhere that’s easy to find (such as a label on your phone or laptop).

These preventative measures can help you stay safe online and away from the risks of cybercrime.

Common passwords in Australia

1. Banned — 2 minutes to crack

2. 123456 — less than a second to crack

3. Admin — less than a second to crack

4. password — less than a second to crack

5. qwerty123 — less than a second to crack

6. 12qwasZX — less than a second to crack

7. Starwars29 — 3 seconds to crack

8. welcome11 — 2 seconds to crack


Important: This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.

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Authorised Representative 298494
Interprac Financial Planning Pty Ltd 

Darryl Jopling

Senior Adviser

I have worked in the financial services industry since 1982 and as a Financial Adviser since 1999.

I have worked for large Financial Planning businesses, Membership based organisations and looked after the financial planning needs of clients within an Accounting Practice before starting my own business.

I am married, have 4 older children and a grandson and I am keen golfer with mixed results like many .

I have been through many of the strategies I talk with clients about myself and with my family.

I have been through the journey of seeing my parents move into Aged care and negotiated the difficulties and pitfalls of understanding the system for them and this gives me an excellent insight into what is required to assist families at this difficult time.

In a previous roll I used to run retirement seminars looking at Centrelink and Retirement Incomes and how to make these work for you. I have helped many of my clients with Aged Care advice when their parents needed to move into Nursing Homes. For many clients I assist them with superannuation, building wealth and protecting their loved ones with insurance.

I am supported by his, Licensee, Interprac Financial Planning’s in-house resources and ongoing technical, systems and training.

I am committed to understanding your needs and identifying strategies and products to help you achieve your goals.

My guiding principle as an Adviser is to design plans which help to provide my clients with clarity of purpose and the opportunity to build a solid financial foundation.
I will take the time to listen, explain things clearly and keep you informed throughout the advice process.

My experience is complemented by professional qualifications including:

  • Certified Financial PlannerTM Professional
  • Diploma of Financial Planning

At Choice Financial Advice we work with you along the way on life’s journey.

Whether you are getting married, starting a family, embarking on the trip of a lifetime, planning to enjoy your years after work or assisting elderly parents with Aged Care and Nursing Home placements, we can help.