To protect essential data of all sorts, we require passwords set by ourselves. Hence, passwords have become modern intangible keys to unlock organizational, governmental and personal information.
Passwords ensure everyone’s accounts are private and secure at all times. However, let’s admit it, we are all guilty of reusing, rotating, or using notoriously easy passwords. Consciously or otherwise, we tend to choose characters for our passwords from the top of our heads. But what we do not realize is most often, such easily accessible information to us is probably known by people we engage with daily. Therefore, there is a higher chance of you leaving yourself open to an account breach. Knowing all the tips and tricks of forming strong passwords will likely guarantee maximum security for your sensitive information.
Consequences of weak passwords
As mentioned above, repetitively using related or weak passwords can leave you vulnerable to hackers. The concept of passwords revolves around protecting confidential or sensitive data. Thereby, not creating a strong password in the first place will allow a hacker to quickly gain access to your social media accounts, bank accounts, emails and other sensitive accounts. You simply become a victim of identity theft, an action that could have been prevented if the password created was strong. Therefore, creating a strong password is vital as it is better safe than to be sorry. Here are some consequences of failing to develop unbreakable solid passwords:
1) Once a hacker gains access to a user’s credentials, they are at a high risk of being exposed to identity theft. They can use this information to log into every account to steal the victims’ personally identifiable information (PII), like their names, addresses, and bank account information. On an alarming note, ‘Identity theft’ can result in further financial losses or difficulty getting loans or employment.
2) The discomfort of worrying about being hacked and what your personal data will be held against, i.e., lack of privacy.
3) In the case of an organization, hackers can begin disinformation campaigns to ruin their reputation or expose their strategic and other essential data to competitors, i.e., ransomware.
4) It is essential to understand that the victim is not only limited to financial problems. But in the long term, the repercussions of identity theft can have a range of emotional implications, including stress and anxiety.
Therefore, stick around and read until the end to ensure high-level protection for your accounts. Of course, your passwords will never be 100% hack-proof guaranteed, but by using these tips, you can say goodbye to data breaches.
Password Security Tips
Are you someone who’s using traditional “1234” in your passwords? Does the guilt of having a basic password such as “1234” eat you alive? If these statements make you uncomfortable, it’s time for you to work on your password security.
1) Information at the top of your head is the easiest to grab, such as your loved one’s names or birthdays, for instance. However, mimicking a password with such data are bound to expose you to hackers. Therefore, at all costs, avoid your name, family member’s names, important dates such as anniversaries and birthdays, special places, the word ‘password’ or sequential lists of numbers or letters. All of these are far too easy to crack, and you should avoid them at all costs.
2) If you are someone who believes that picking up the dictionary and selecting a random word, either English or foreign or phonetic patterns, will save you from being hacked. Think twice as hackers run various dictionaries against your passwords in an attempt to crack them. They are also cunning enough to scan for common substitutions, so substituting ‘@’ for ‘a’ or ‘!’ for ‘l’ doesn’t help. If the situation involves a brute force attack, a random word with common substitutions and numbers or symbols added onto the end would be exposed in less than three days.
3) If you tend to be someone who writes passwords down in order for you to remember. Ensure you do not leave them somewhere accessible, for instance, near your computer. It makes it easier for people to access your accounts. A turnkey solution to this would be memorizing passwords or storing them in a private place.
5) Even though it may seem convenient to connect to an insecure Wi-Fi Connection whenever there is an opportunity at a bookstore, café, restaurant or shopping centre. Think twice before doing so, as hackers can easily intercept private information from the moment you connect to these and enter your passwords to social media and email accounts.
Instead, it’s important that you:
1) Use different passwords for each one of your accounts. First, start by considering your current password situation. Are you using the same password for your social media, online banking and shopping?Next, will a hacker be able to enter multiple accounts of yours with the same password? If so, you’ve got yourself a problem. Therefore, ensure you always set a differentsecure password for each of your accounts to ensure maximum security.
2) Long passwords may sound awfully time-consuming to type. Nevertheless, always be open to using long passwords as they are more secure. Traditionally, 12 characters or longer is considered ideal. However, if you wish to shorten it, make sure it is not less than six characters.
3) Mixing of letters, numbers and symbols. Always ensure you are sticking to a balanced mix of lowercase and uppercase letters in order to create a more secure password.
4) Make use of a string of words that are quite easy for you to recall. For instance, using four separate words and combining them will make it much harder for the automated hacking software to guess. Overall, the following method could increase the time taken to guess your password from a few days to over one hundred years.
5) Change automatically generated passwords instantly. For example, when you sign up for online digital banking, they provide a password for you to access the portal and which you must rightfully change immediately. Since these passwords are generated automatically and not customized to your needs and they are quite simple.
6) Nowadays, most companies automatically are able to read the strength of your password by using password analyzers. In most instances, if your password is found to be a week, “it will be highlighted in red,” whereas if it’s strong, “it’ll be highlighted in green”. Always pay attention to this detail, so you are able to prevent yourself from being exposed by making changes immediately.
Using online portals such as “how secure is your password” or “passwordmonster” allows you to check users’ passwords against a database of common weak passwords. Thereby, evaluating each password based on key factors like:
- The most ideal is 16-20 characters. But, the password should always have at least eight to ten characters as the bare minimum.
- It checks whether a balanced combination of letters, numbers, and symbols are being used rather than a phrase. Each one of these characters should have an associated numerical value, and they finally should add up to create a grand total.
- Scans the individuality and uniqueness of the password in order for it to be strong. Thus, no repetitive characters instead unique combinations must be used.
The above websites use all of the above factors to assess the passwords strength and finally calculates the total score for each password and converts this score into the amount of time it would take a computer to crack this password.