There’s a good reason Netflix warns users to change their passwords. When successful giants like LinkedIn, Google, eHarmony, Yahoo, and many more have struggled with security breaches and cracked passwords, one should seriously consider creating a more secure password. In this new era of cybercrime, no one is safe from potential hacking attacks and keystroke loggers. Typing “wrong” or “don’t know” as passwords may be funny to some, but they are extremely insecure. And security is by no means a laughing matter. If you think those passwords are wrong, check out this list of the 10 worst and most insecure passwords on the internet *:
- 123456 (# 1 for the third year in a row)
- password (# 2 for the third year in a row)
- 1 2 3 4 5
- 1 2 3 4
Of course there are methods to create a more secure password, but still, regarding the massive digital breaches of late, we can do more than just walk away from the “popular” clichés like “qwerty123” or “loveme123456”. Six letter passwords do not support high quality cracking software either. So here are some things to consider when making your password more secure:
Length and complexity
In this fast-paced digital age, today’s computers are extremely fast and efficient, compared to the machines of a decade ago. This means that today it is much easier for a cybercriminal or hacker to do a quick job with the professional or personal information of an unsuspecting victim. Millions of password leaks are constantly being reported, but many simply refuse to understand why the length and complexity of passwords are so important.
In some circles, a minimum of eight characters in a password is considered sufficient. But we recommend that you consider 16-20 characters or more. One should create easy-to-remember sentence passwords, random phrases, or even song lyrics, as it should be more than enough for tighter security for your networks and devices.
Thinking outside the box is key. Even if popular articles suggest unique ideas for your password, it’s not a good idea to take them for granted. Make up your own pattern that only you will remember. Hackers tend to keep up to date on the latest trends. They are knowledgeable about popular patterns and will be more than happy to try these password hints.
There are many Star Wars fans in the world with a solid knowledge of the franchise and the universe. Hackers know it. They also know that “maytheforcebewithyou”, for example, is a common estimate when trying to hack someone’s password.
Master Yoda would recommend using the standard mix of uppercase characters, symbols, and numbers. However, this practice is complex and you should not use the same difficult password with all of your accounts. If the crooks get a password, you can bet they’ll use it on your other accounts.
Additionally, a 2013 research study for the Federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, conducted by Korelogic, reports that there is a common pattern in the uppercase passwords, symbols, and numbers that people use. The pattern is as follows: the first character is uppercase, followed by 5 or 6 lowercase, then 3 numbers or the year of birth. Common mistakes are capitalizing the first letter, ending the password with an exclamation point, and not scattering numbers between characters.
Our advice would be to use a multi-word phrase with approximately 16 characters, or more, made up of random words. For example, “correcthorsebatterystaple”, which is made up of four common English words, but is considered so random that for any hacking script to try to crack it, it would take 550 years at 1000 guesses per second. **
Are you typing your passwords?
Notepads won’t cut it either. Unique passwords are difficult, which is why people often type them. Many people make the mistake of leaving notes with credit card passwords in their wallet or in a drawer. While cyber thieves don’t have the technology to access your scraps of paper, your family members, roommates, colleagues, handymen, and others do. And this probably goes against the best security practices of most companies.
This is where password management programs can help. The simple software uses a master password method to keep your priceless one-phrase passwords. One can create unique and extremely strong passwords and will only need to remember one password to recover them. Programs like 1Password, Keepass, Dashlane, LastPass, Sticky Password, and others can save valuable information and ultimately time and money.
Changing your password
It should be noted that this is not exactly the most suitable method to deal with cyber breaches. Changing it every 2-3 months is not always the best idea because you will have to remember each and every password. You should only change your password if there has been a massive security breach on the website or service, so you should stay up-to-date on the latest news.
Security questions are equally important. The most secure password can and will break down due to a weak security response. The questions are usually your mother’s maiden name, the city you were born in, and catastrophe can happen if hackers have this information. All of which can be easily obtained on Facebook or other leftover information on social media, depending on your privacy settings.
Taking things into account
In short, there is no foolproof way to create an absolutely secure password. We can only make the effort to strengthen these passwords and protect our networks and vital information.
– Always create unique passwords with memorable combinations of words, symbols and numbers that do not resemble common patterns such as “Doolittle1982!” Or “7LittlePiglets #”.
- Always use long 16 character passwords that are complex enough but easy to remember
- Never write your name, address or year in your password
- Consider using a password manager
- Unless you live alone, don’t write passwords on sticky notes
- Avoid using 12345 number string combinations
- Avoid using the 25 worst passwords, according to SlashDot
- * From SplashData’s “Worst Passwords of 2016”
- ** Article from TheVerge.com “Best Practices for Passwords”