Time for the truth: many of us are too complacent with our passwords. We use the same password on multiple online accounts because it’s easier to remember. Since so far nothing bad has happened to any online account, we believe we have secure passwords.
Keep this in mind: A hacker can use minimal computer equipment to run repeated test sequences to find out your password. Computer security researchers say this can be done in three hours.
Much of our basic information is available online, such as our home address, where we attended school, the names of family members, and more. Hackers start there and conduct their brute force attack searches.
Do you answer questions on social media, such as the name of your favorite pet or the model of your first car? Stop doing this. Hackers love it when you do it – it’s a starting point for getting your password.
What does a secure password do?
A secure password is long, a minimum length of 12 characters is recommended, but the longer the better.
Create secure passwords with a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Even the best complex passwords are not secure forever. To keep your password secure, change your existing password frequently. You can set a reminder to do this in a calendar application.
What is a weak password?
Memorable passwords are usually weak passwords. For example, use your postal address, first or last name, alias Alma Mater or other information that can be easily found.
In other words, MapleStreetBuckeyeFan20 (the graduation year) is a no-no. Also, stay away from memorable keyboard paths, such as sequential keyboard paths of letters or numbers on a keyboard. That’s where hacker fishing attacks begin.
Why is a secure password important?
A secure password gives you online security. Brute force attacks by hackers and data breaches can be common, both at home and in the workplace. You need a unique password for each of your online accounts to protect your identity and finances.
Should you use a password manager for good password ideas?
Using password managers is a very good idea. All your accounts, all your passwords, are protected by a master password, set by you. The password manager application takes care of the timely change of all your different passwords. Constant change helps keep every password secure.
If you add a new online account, the password manager will set a new password for it.
A dozen good password ideas and practices
1. Use a password management application. This is the easiest way to keep your accounts secure and password high. The application will automatically run password generators and change your passwords within a set time period.
2. Do not use a memorable password (one that you can easily remember). The best passwords do not use information about you that can be easily found on the Internet.
3. Make your own unique passwords using the first letter of each word in a sentence. The secure password is converted to the sequential letters of each word, with a mixture of numbers and symbols.
For example, “We got married and moved into our first house in 2016, but sold it in 2020” would become “WgmamIofhI16bsii20” and you could insert an unusual symbol like ^ or + between sentences.
4. Mix at least four words from the random dictionary. Choosing random words, instead of common words, works because the random sequence makes no sense. Making a password like this can be as simple as pointing to a dictionary word.
Remember the basics of secure password and mix uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
5. Do not use the same password in multiple locations, such as work and home.
6. Keep passwords private. Don’t share them with co-workers or in the cloud.
7. Do not have any files on your computer, tablet or phone where you store passwords. This is a bad idea and could lead to a data breach of sensitive data in several places.
8. Use multifactor authentication. For example, when you enter your login and account credentials, a numeric code will be sent to your phone or sent to your email account. This way you can only access the account.
9. Be careful with security questions. Often, these answers can be easily discovered by hackers.
For example, your mother’s maiden name or your father’s middle name; getting this information can take hackers a few minutes.
The information could be in a genealogy site or even in an obituary.
10. Once you’ve changed a current password, never return it.
Same with a forgotten password: Once you have the details you forgot, change it.
11. Protect your computer from cyber threats by regularly installing and updating password protection programs and malware to capture passwords.
Check your credit card account at least once a week and keep your spending limits low.
12. Try a practice of looking at the URL before clicking on a website.
This can happen especially when you “dig deeper” into sites, where sites refer users to other sites. Hackers use fake login pages that look like the real site.
You’ve seen these kinds of things in your spam folder, where you’ve earned something from a great store or website. You feel safe because it’s a store or place where you usually shop, but it’s just a hacker trying to look like the place. It will often appear as an advertisement.
Good practices for creating solid password ideas
Let’s review. You should be a little nervous about your trusted passwords right now and ready to make changes. Here are our best tips for achieving this:
- Use a password management application: This will take most of the work out of your hands. The password manager will use its random password generator. You only need to have a master password.
- Create a secure password for your account: Use a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Make your own passwords secure without planning: Type at random on your keyboard, using the Caps Lock key and a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Use the dictionary: Type at random on the keyboard, sometimes using the Caps Lock key and shuffling letters and numbers. Choose a random word from four different dictionary page openings. Use these four words and a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, with numbers and symbols.
- Make passwords long: Experts advise a minimum of 12 letters, numbers, and characters, but even more is better.
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