Every single day, hackers are hard at work trying to gain unauthorized access to private accounts and computing devices. So profitable is hacking that cybercriminals show no signs of slowing down—the industry is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars according to a recent study.
One of the key ways that hackers or cybercriminals use to gain access to your device is guessing your password. If you use a simple and common password, then intruders can easily break it.
Once they do, they can then proceed to steal your data, your banking information, money, and even identity. Moreover, the hacker can use your account or device to commit a crime which then puts you in legal trouble.
With this in mind, it follows that a strong password is not a luxury but a necessity. To help ensure all your accounts and devices are secured with a strong password; here are common password mistakes you should know about and the steps you can take to ensure you use a strong password.
Do you make these common password mistakes?
1. A lack of variation
Studies show that though most people know they should use different passwords for different accounts; six out of ten people still use a single password for different online accounts.
The reason is simple; most find it a hassle to remember passwords to the over 30 accounts that on average, an individual has access to.
Moreover, recent password requirements that demand passwords be at least 12 characters long, be made up of numbers, letters, special characters and a mixture of upper case and lower case characters make remembering passwords even more difficult.
Unfortunately, the hassle-free method of using the same passwords for all accounts is like leaving your house key under the flower pot. Once an intruder gets the key, he/she has access to every room in your house. Similarly, the single password is a key to your entire digital life.
2. Overly simple passwords
In a bid to remember their passwords, most people use simple and non-random passwords. Often these words reflect details of one’s personal life. For example, your children’s date of birth combined with the name of your favorite pet or your all-time favorite movie and the year it came out.
However, thanks to social media, this is the kind of information that a hacker can easily glean by stalking you across different social media platforms. Once they have all the information about you, then putting together your password becomes extremely easy.
3. Only walking or tweaking passwords
A study by computer science students at Virginia Tech shows that 21% of people modify an existing password to sign up for a different service. This modification is known as password tweaking.
The same research shows that a lot of people password walk. It is a situation where people use letters and numbers adjacent to one other. For example, QWERTY or 12345.
Both password tweaking and password walking make it easy for hackers to break a password via brute force. A good random password generator shows it only takes 3 hours to crack the password—qwerty6789!@.
The only way to avoid these password mistakes is to use a long, strong and random password for each account. Here are three ways that will help you do that.
3 steps to using strong passwords effectively
1. Use a password generator
The process of creating such a password is more complicated than it sounds. See, no matter how random you think you are, human brains often gravitate to numbers and letters that have meaning to an individual. That means you might think you are creating a random and unique password, but in reality, it is full of personal information.
The solution, therefore, is to research and find the best password generator in the market and utilize it. The password generator should be able to generate a password that will take years to crack.
Additionally, it should have other features that help ensure your password is safe and uncrackable. For instance, the generator should be able to generate multiple passwords at the same time to facilitate convenience.
Second, the password generator should facilitate an offline download. That way, once it generates a password, it does not have to be sent across the internet where eavesdroppers might access it, especially if the communication channel is not encrypted.
Finally, the generator should generate passwords that are almost immune to a brute force attack. A brute force attack involves trying various password and username combinations over and over again until the hacker guesses the correct password.
Studies on how long it takes to brute force passwords show that it takes 200 years to crack a 12-character long password. The generator should produce such passwords that can beat the brute force password decryption time.
2. Use a password manager
Trying to remember more than 30 passwords is near impossible. Spare your energy for more important things, employ a password manager instead.
The password manager does not only act as a vault that secures your password, but it also arranges them by account so everything is easily accessible at your fingertips. Password managers usually come with heightened security measures so you can count on them to keep all of your other accounts safe.
3. Use 2-FA
2-FA stands for two-factor authentication. It works to add an extra layer of security by prompting the user for a secondary one-time authentication code at each login attempt. The one-time password is sent to your phone via SMS or can be accessed from the authenticator app to verify further that you’re the rightful owner of the account.
That means that even if by some stroke of luck a hacker identifies your password, they still cannot get hold of the account content.
To protect yourself from hackers who can turn your life upside down, you must of necessity use strong passwords. Following the above-mentioned ways will help you do that.