Everyone loves opening their computer and receiving the dreaded message “please change your password.” We have all been there – ten minutes late to a meeting, the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, and you franticly type in that simple password, “password123.” How would that password hold up against a hacker? Not well. According to the password checker we used, it would take a hacker just 10 milliseconds to access that account.
Take a minute to think about all that is secured with a password: your computer, phone, bank accounts, social media pages, the list continues. Now think about what would happen if all those accounts were unprotected; anyone could have access to almost anything about you. With a poorly thought-out password, and a simple click, everything could be public and on the dark web.
Many people forget the importance of keeping passwords secure. Many of us are guilty of logging into an account on a public computer and forgetting to logout. This simple mistake allows anyone access to look through your personal data. Even harmlessly giving a friend your password could result in someone overhearing and having access to your account. People think that cyber hackers are not as large of an issue as some portray, but unfortunately the number of jobs that involve hacking accounts and passwords is growing rapidly.
When one person gets hacked it has a trickle effect. If someone’s email were to be hacked, not only has his or her information been leaked, but now information in those emails – credentials to other accounts, financial details, confidential company data – is available to the hacker. This can drastically affect a magnitude of people, not only the one whose account was hacked.
World Password Day is a day used to remind people the importance of a strong password. As technology continues to grow in our society, so does the risk of cyber attackers. Keeping up with your passwords is not an easy task. Balancing the variety of passwords between work and personal life averages to around 20 to 30 passwords. This is almost impossible for anyone to keep up with at one time, not to mention having to update those passwords constantly, and the requirements for every specific site being so diverse.
Tips for Creating a Strong Password
To avoid giving yourself another headache, when creating a password try to steer away from using personal information in your password. A family member’s name, your phone number, birthday, or Social Security number are usually the first things cyber hackers try. Also avoid using consecutive numbers and single words.
- Mix It Up: A strong password consists of a mixture of random numbers, letters and symbols, with a minimum of at least 12 characters or more.
- Acronyms: A helpful tool is to pick a sentence or phrase and reduce it to the first letters of each word only. For example, “A Golden Key Can Open Any Door” becomes AGKCOAD.
- Go Backwards: Even reversing the spelling of a word, so that “partnership” becomes “pihsrentrap” is a helpful password creating tool.
- Be Unique: The most important part of creating a password is making sure your password is unique and not used for multiple accounts. If one account is hacked, the next step for a hacker would be to try the same or similar password on as many personal accounts as possible.
How to Store Passwords Safely
There are an abundant number of apps that allow you to store your passwords safely, also known as Password Management Solutions, which are proven to be safer than writing down your password on a Post-it Note. These apps organize and store any password you have, all secured by a master password of your choosing. It is important when downloading these apps to make sure they are certified. Some recommended Password Management Solution apps include KeePass, RoboForm, LastPass and AnyPassword.
There are also other apps known as “password crackers” that allow you to try out a password to see how secure it may be. These apps do not store any of your information, instead they tell you how long it would take someone to “crack” your password. PassWorks Checker in the Apple App Store will analyze your password, and give you feedback on how to strengthen your current password. https://howsecureismypassword.net/ or https://www.security.org/how-secure-is-my-password/ can also be used from a web browser.
Password protection is something that is commonly overlooked yet has the potential to blow up one’s life. While keeping up with what feels like millions of passwords can be tricky, using the applications will only be a benefit. The next time you receive the feared “please change password” alert, take a minute and create that secure password. Your future self will thank you.