There have been a number of recent new stories about password security following the high profile breach of 38 million Adobe accounts. These incidents highlight the need to choose secure passwords for your accounts and to use different usernames and passwords for different websites.

As in this case, it is not usually the actual password that is stored by the website, but a ‘hash’ created by applying an algorithm to the password. This normally means that you cannot find out what password someone has used, but by applying the same algorithm to common passwords / dictionary words / short sequences of numbers, hackers can guess what password has been used.

When you consider the information that may be available if somebody else gets access to your accounts, it may seem worthwhile to ensure your passwords are secure. Would you want other people to access your e-mails or post items on your Facebook account? How about if somebody was to use your account to order items at Tesco or Amazon? Alternatively perhaps someone could access your online banking.

So, when choosing a password avoid the old favourites of “abc”, “123” and “password”. Ideally use a random combination of numbers, letters (lower and upper case) and other symbols (£&!). The more complex the password, the harder it is for a hacker to crack. Of course you need to be able to remember the password as well; don’t write your passwords down; change your passwords regularly and don’t use the same password for lots of different sites!

See the following websites for tips on setting good passwords: