Passwords are part of our life more than ever before as mobile technology has made the accessibility to personal documents and private information a 24/7 possibility. As a result, keeping track of these passwords can be a headache and may result in choosing weak passwords that may leave information susceptible to a data breach.
Why strong passwords are necessary
Evolving technological environment
Ten years or so ago, you likely only needed a few online passwords for things like email, personal banking information, and one social media platform.
Today, people typically need passwords for the following:
- several social media accounts
- multiple email accounts
- online banking
- credit card accounts
- online bill pay
- online shopping accounts
- streaming services
A recent study showed the average person has around 100 passwords and has expanded rapidly in the last couple of years as people spend more time at home. This number should continue to grow as the digital economy expands and more services are, and entertainment options become a reality.
The more passwords people sign up for, the more likely it is to choose passwords that are easy to remember, making your online accounts easy for hackers to access.
Reduce the risk of viruses and lost time
Hackers are more prevalent than ever before and target small businesses and people who don’t have the cyber security systems to prevent attacks.
According to a recent report, 36 percent of all attacks are made on businesses with fewer than 250 employees.
Hackers will often lock up company systems that prevent them from operating and demand a ransom to make the business operational again.
Having a strong password is one of the first lines of defense that can prevent situations where you are locked out of critical business resources or personal documents.
Serves as an insurance policy
Hackers often demand ransom once they have succeeded in a brute force attack, and people and businesses are often left with no choice other than to meet the hacker’s demands to get access back to their personal information.
Putting in the work to come up with a strong password upfront could end up saving you a ton of money down the line.
Tips for choosing strong passwords
Use a random password generator
A password generator can help develop a unique combination of words and numbers that would make it nearly impossible for someone to guess.
Password generators typically give you the ability to generate a password from a combination of lowercase letters, upper case letters, and special characters.
Choose a lengthy password
Longer passwords may be more challenging to remember, but they are more secure because they are more difficult to guess. Longer passwords allow you to use random characters and phrases and are more time-consuming to crack.
Avoid personal information
Whether you like it or not, personal information is more accessible online than ever before.
Here are a few things you want will not want to include if you are trying to come up with a unique password:
- house numbers
- phone numbers
- pet’s names
People in a rush to come up with a password often use family names or memorable dates because they are easier for them to remember.
These passwords are much easier to hack because hackers can scrape the web for this information and get a head start on guessing your correct password.
Use a passphrase over complexity
An FBI officer suggests using a long password that is a long combination of words at least 15 characters instead of a short complex password because they take more computational resources to crack passwords.
Passphrases are strings of unrelated words combined that would be impossible for anyone to guess. Here are a few passphrase examples:
Mix up keyboard paths
Qwerty is one of the most commonly used passwords that gets hacked because it requires the tiniest bit of creativity and is easy for people to remember since the letters are listed in order on the keyboard.
Try to mix up your keyword path by using a combination of words, numbers, and symbols that are spread out on different parts of the keyboard.
Different types of password attacks
Phishing is when attackers try to send you fraudulent messaging from what appears to be popular services such as Apple or Amazon, with the hope that you won’t notice and submit your password information.
Phishing attacks are getting more complex as the internet ages and now are coming to other forms like text messages, corporate email messages, or video calls.
Brute force attacks
Brute force attacks are attacks that use an exhaustive password entry with the hopes of guessing the right combination of words and characters.
Brute force attacks use sophisticated computer software to generate hundreds of password combinations that can crack into user accounts.
Most platforms that require passwords have a limit of password entry before accounts, making the smaller apps or websites that don’t have the same level of password security susceptible to these types of attacks.
Keylogger attacks are software programs that give hackers access to your keystrokes, giving them a headstart on guessing your password correctly.
Keeping your computer software updated and utilizing anti-virus software are ways to prevent keylogger attacks.
Dictionary words attack
A dictionary attack is when hackers use every word in the dictionary as a password to try and guess the correct password.
People that use pet names or commonly used password names make dictionary attacks more successful than a well-thought-out passphrase or complex password.
Password spray attacks
Spray attacks typically happen at large corporations where hackers try one password across thousands of accounts.
How to keep passwords secure
Don’t discuss your password
People commonly share passwords to things like streaming services or cable packages to try and save a dollar here or there.
However, the password you may share with a buddy to watch a big event may get shared many times over, and if you use that password across multiple logins, your online security is at risk.
If you have purchased something online recently, you probably have noticed how most e-commerce sites try to autosave your credit card information so you can reuse the info easily the next time you make a purchase. While this may be convenient for you to do, avoiding autosave is a good idea.
Avoid public wifi
According to a recent study, nearly one-third of all public wifi hotspots are not encrypted. This means that your personal information is susceptible to being accessed by hackers logged into the same wifi network as you.
Man-in-the-middle attacks are another popular method hackers use in public settings and are when someone impersonates having a free wifi connection with the hopes that you will connect to it and share confidential information.
Use screen filters when traveling
If you travel frequently or work from outside of the house in crowded environments, a screen protector is a worthwhile investment if you want to avoid visual hacking.
Visual hacking is the least technical form of hacking. Still, it is one of the most easily accessible, and a screen protector can give you the peace of mind to access personal information like banking information.
Utilize two-factor authentication
Most banking apps offer two-factor authentication for users to provide an additional layer of security. Authenticators send a text message to Android or Iphones with a separate unique code or send it through email.
While it may create more work for yourself to take an additional step to log in to your accounts, you are much less likely to be hacked if you choose to do so.
Avoid commonly used passwords
Most people use weak passwords because they simply can’t keep up with many different usernames and passwords. Here are a few of the most commonly used passwords that you should try to avoid using:
Is it a good idea to use a password manager?
Password managers can be beneficial in keeping an organized list of all of your different passwords in one place. However, if you are going to use a password manager, be sure to research the password manager company reputation.
Companies like Dashlane have 4.4 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot and have a good reputation in the cyber security industry.
What is a good way to create a memorable password?
One way to create a memorable password is to start with an existing password that is easy for you to remember and then mix up the words by adding characters or numbers into the word.
Is it safe to keep passwords on your computer?
What are good words for passwords?
Good words for passwords are words that do not correlate to one another and also incorporate a mix of lower and upper case letters and a mix of symbols and special characters.
Here are a couple of examples of weak and strong passwords:
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