THE BLOG

Snow White and the Strong Password

29/09/2015 11:56 BST | Updated 28/09/2016 10:12 BST

Once upon a time, there lived a young princess named Snow White. Snow White lived in a faraway castle under the rule of her wicked stepmother, who was jealous of Snow White's youth and beauty. Fearful she would no longer be the fairest in the land, the wicked stepmother hatched a plan to steal Snow White's beauty and banish her forever.

Luckily Snow White had the help of seven loyal dwarves, who sheltered her at their woodland home. The dwarves secured the house with passwords and codes to keep Snow White safe so her jealous stepmother would never find her.

Every day when the loyal seven dwarves left the house for work, they changed the passwords to the house and told Snow White not to step outside. They lived happily and safely until one fine day, Snow White was sat by the window and, in a glimmer of sunlight, spied an aged fruit seller, clasping a big basket of delicious apples that she offered Snow White for free.

Discarding the passwords that kept her safe, Snow White opened the window and began picking the juicy apples from the basket. She couldn't believe her luck, finding treats like these free of charge! Without the dwarves' passwords to protect her however, Snow White had fallen prey to her stepmother's trick. The apples may have looked delicious, but they were steeped with poison.

Snow White's story reminds us that having a strong password is a bit like remembering to lock the front door, or trying to stay safe online. Using a strong password will help prevent unauthorised access to your personal details online, whether it be the information you store on a device, your online bank account or a social network.

Just as the seven dwarves keep Snow White safe from her wicked stepmother, it's important to teach children how to protect personal information online, by making sure their passwords are strong and private.

Cyber criminals are successful at breaking through a weak passwords - that is simple passwords like your birthday or your mother's name, which the stepmother would surely have guessed. Just like the dwarves' little house, your online accounts are only as secure as the username and password that protect them. You should make sure that each one contains at least eight characters and avoid easy-to-guess passwords such as "password", "123456" or "qwerty".

A great tip for children to remember when they are creating their passwords, is to always use mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and a special character - making sure they have different passwords for each of their accounts, including social media. Pick a single master password that you'll be able to remember, and then customise that password for different websites. The first step is to choose a good master password that uses more than six characters and some combination of letters and numbers (rather than real words). Your children could start with a phrase, for example "My dog is called Rex". Reduce that phrase to each of the first letters, and you'll end up with "mdicr". To make this even more complex, you could then add the first and last letter of the website to it (Norton's website would be: "NmdicrN").

In the traditional tale, Snow White falls victim to her stepmother's trick as she opens the window to take the poisoned apples. In the 21st century, opening the window is just the same as sharing a password with a stranger. By sharing passwords, children are removing the layer of protection between their device and the cyber criminals that may target them to access their personal information. You can download a password manager (widely available for free) to help keep your passwords and online identity secure.