What is the current state of IT security?
It is commonly known that passwords are personal, more like family secrets. The rules are simple; keep it where people can’t see it, and importantly, do not share it with anyone.
Password simplicity is a thing of the past. With cyber-attacks rising, hackers have taken their game a notch higher. Numbers don’t lie; take a quick look.
- According to Verizon, 58% of data breaches leave personal information exposed.
- Google discovered that 68% of internet users use the same password for multiple sites.
As you can see, the risks are high. There are two main reasons why hackers can hack passwords faster than before.
- First, hackers now use brute force attacks. Using powerful computers, hackers can process zillions of combinations related to your password in a flash.
- Secondly, tons of personal information is now available on google and social media. Hackers take their time to find out more about you, for instance, your birth date, favorite shows, family members, cars, etc. Armed with these details, hackers can easily bypass security questions, gaining access to your account.
With that in mind, let’s avoid password mistakes.
1. Avoid Simple Ones
Now that we use the web for multiple tasks like shopping, banking, and communication, it is easy to end up with tons of passwords to remember. As such, it is to succumb to the temptation of creating simple passwords.
Do you know the most common passwords? Examples of top easy-to-remember passwords include qwerty, password, admin, and 12345679012. Take the last numerical password; its length does not make it stronger. Anyone can guess that.
What to do instead?
Use a mix of lower case and uppercase letters, numbers, and special symbols such as @ and $ to create strong and secure passwords. Using such combinations to create strong passwords slows down hackers and may discourage them completely.
2. Avoid Reusing Them On Different Sites
As we saw earlier from google, many people use the same passwords for multiple logins. This is a blatant blunder due to the following reasons.
- If one account goes down, then the password-sharing accounts may as well follow.
- Hackers can easily piece together the puzzles about your life and use the information to crack the rest of your accounts.
- If you use the same password as that of an active but unused account, hackers can use it to trace your current accounts.
To mitigate such threats, create unique but easy-to-remember passwords for individual accounts.
3. Avoid Using Personal Information Within
Using personal information in this age is a grave error. Most personal details are no longer confidential, thanks to social media. Anyone can know a person without even meeting them. Therefore, while striving to create memorable passwords, avoid using;
- Your name or that of your family members
- Names of your pets
- Favorite celebrities and shows
- Street names
Adding characters or numerals to the above cannot help either. Software made to crack codes will crack it within the day. The safest bet is using a random combination.
4. Avoid Short Ones
One time I asked some of my friends why they had short, simple passwords. Know what they told me? Because they didn’t want to forget their passwords. Yes, short passwords are memorable. But, the shorter the password, the easier it is to hack.
Likewise, with the increase in computer processing speeds, a six-character password is as good as none.
Although the length of an effective password is debatable, I recommend nothing short of 10 characters. 12 to 14 characters is a good fit, too, if you are up to it.
5. Avoid ReUsing Them
It is easy to consider reusing old passwords and tweaking them a little when creating new passwords. While it may seem like an entirely new password, it is not any more secure than the old one. This is because people tend to create simple, memorable passwords to begin with.
What is wrong with password recycling?
Passwords recycling leaves you vulnerable to credential stuffing. In this case, hackers use bots to attempt logging in to your account using the old credentials. They will keep hammering until they hit the right combination.
Needless to say, a brand new password is in your best interest.
6. Avoid Storing Them Unsafely
Creating a hard-to-crack password is in vain if you store it improperly. Sometimes, people may create folders to store passwords on personal computers. But this carries a huge risk. In case malware attacks the computer, hackers will celebrate.
On the other hand, some people may write passwords on sticky notes or diaries that they keep on their desks. While hackers can’t reach the notes, snooping friends of family members can access them. Or worse, burglars can make away with them, causing tons of problems.
If you need a secure way to store your credentials, consider getting a password manager such as LastPass or Kaspersky Password Manager. Such programs help you store and lock all your passwords behind a master password. This way, you only need to remember one password.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Share Your Password
Passwords are meant to stay personal for a reason – to prevent unauthorized access. As such, do not share your personal login information with other users.
For instance, if you share your shopping account login, you risk exposing your credit card details. What if your friend turns rogue?
Again, if you must share your password, how you do it matters. Note that you diminish your account security if you share it via communication apps such as emails and messaging apps. It is safer to key it in for the other person as opposed to sending it.
In a nutshell, I cannot overemphasize the importance of creating strong, secure passwords. Your banking or personal details are at stake here. Therefore, take time to create a secure password to protect your accounts. It is worth the effort.
Do you have any short, simple, or reused passwords? Have you shared your password recently? If yes, you need to consider creating new, stronger passwords now. Passwords are key to security and sources like this New York state newsletter are key to giving out current trends.
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