As technology improves and we find ourselves relying on it to carry out various functions, the need for security increases. One of the many ways of ensuring security is through passwords. In a world where almost everything has gone digital, passwords are more important than they’ve ever been. We use them to protect our PCs and smartphones, software, and anything carrying sensitive information, such as our bank account details and personal data. To protect yourself from being a victim of a breach, fraud, or, worse, identity theft, you need to ensure that your passwords are as secure as they can be.
The problem, however, is that passwords like “12345678” are amazingly popular and very much still in use. Such passwords are known as weak passwords. The main disadvantage of using a weak password is that a hacker can easily figure it out. Besides, there is dedicated software that can quickly crack weak passwords. If you are logged into several online services using the same e-mail address and weak password, this further increases your chances of being hacked quickly.
The sad reality is that very few people understand the devastating consequences of having their passwords cracked. Let’s look at them more closely. If you are an eBay user, your e-mail is linked to your eBay account. This means that your e-mail is stored as an account recovery address. If your e-mail is to be hacked, the attacker can easily have access to your payment and shopping information. They can easily log into your eBay account and wipe clean your bank or card balance. Imagine if you’re also on other e-commerce sites, such as Amazon. The attacker can log into each of them just by getting access to your email box. That can be a total disaster!
An attacker can also gain access to your files and photos in the cloud. This can be used to impersonate you on social media like Twitter and Facebook. A hack into your email can give the hacker access to your business documents – and this is one of the major reasons why attackers choose to hack emails.
At this point, you understand why it’s extremely important to have a secure password that cannot be cracked easily. We will now share tips for creating secure passwords and ways to better manage your passwords.
How Long Does It Take a Hacker to Crack a Password?
It’s common to see users creating passwords based on personal data. This can be their date of birth or the birthday and name of a loved one. In such cases, an attacker can quickly guess such a password if this data is known. Modern computers are now capable of generating and testing up to 1 million passwords per second. In the best-case scenario, a four-to-five-digit password will last just about 30 minutes before it is calculated. If you use personal data in your password, it can be calculated much faster.
If it is an 8-digit password containing upper- and lower-case letters together with special characters and numbers, a powerful computer will need several months to crack it. For a 15-digit password, it’ll take up to 30 years! The longer the password and the more variations it contains (upper case, lower case, special characters, and digits), the more secure it is and the longer it’ll take to crack it.
How Thieves and Hackers Steal Passwords
It is important to realize that hackers are just as clever as you are. The first thing they’ll do is find a way to gain access to your personal information. They usually do this by requesting your password through phishing sites or spam emails or simply by using their pool of hacked data. Large organizations and, in some cases, small ones are subject to regular attacks. User information gotten from these hacks is then sold to the highest bidder or simply published. If you have accounts with popular sites, such as Adobe, BitTorrent, Avast, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Sony, Snapchat, and many others, then you are at risk. This is because these companies have been victims of such attacks and your personal information stored on their websites can be accessed easily in such situations.
Commonly Used Passwords
This might sound unbelievable, but it’s true. Scout’s honor! The most commonly used passwords include the following numbers, words, and their combinations:
- 33333 etc.
Do you really think these passwords are safe? Of course, they are not! They can easily be guessed, and it will take a computer less than 20 minutes to break them.
What Is a Secure Password?
What does a secure password look like? To create a secure password, we recommend that you use as many characters as possible. A minimum of 8 characters is best. Some security experts recommend that you use a minimum of 15 characters or more. Whatever length you choose, keep in mind that you will need to enter your password from time to time. Don’t make it so long that it becomes tedious to use.
Completely avoid the temptation of using words from the dictionary or even names. This is a bad idea! For a password to be considered secure, it should contain a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. Another thing you must avoid is using the same password for multiple websites or apps. Avoid this at all costs!
Tips for Creating a Secure Password
You should know these tips on how to create a secure password:
- Under no circumstances should you use real words. Also, words that look like “password” or “pa$$w0rd” should be avoided.
- Do not use names, dates of birth, nicknames, and pet names.
- Do not use keyboard patterns like “qwerty”. These patterns are used more often than you can imagine. Also, desist from using repetitions and palindromes.
- Avoid using letters with “umlauts” such as ä, ö, and ü. They can be a problem when you want to use a foreign service.
- Without exception, always use a combination of upper- and lower-case characters!
- Also, always use special characters, such as &, #, %, and *, in your passwords.
- Mix special characters, numbers, and letters. Don’t separate them. For example, don’t write five letters first, then three numbers, and finally three special characters. Use them randomly.
- Avoid short passwords. The lengthier, the better. For example, if you’re setting up a WLAN password, use up to 20 characters.
- To remember your password easily, make use of mnemonics. For example, “I enjoy the color of leaves in autumn” becomes “ietcolia”. You can then add numbers and special characters. The sky’s the limit to how creative you can be with this!
What Else Should You Know When Using Passwords?
If you don’t want to go through the stress of coming up with new passwords, you can employ the services of a password manager app. We also recommend that you use two-factor authentication for sensitive services. For example, you should have additional security on your eBay account. The service provider will give you a random code via app or SMS each time you want to log into the account from a new device. You won’t be allowed to log in until you enter this randomly generated code!
How Secure Is Your Password?
Well, a password is only as secure as people you share it with. If you create a strong password and nobody else has access to it, it is secure. Avoid storing your passwords where they can be freely accessed.
Should You Save Passwords or Not?
A good password manager should keep your passwords safe. However, if you allow apps, such as your browser, to save your data, this can be a security risk. Not all apps, including browsers, store your passwords securely. Usually, all it takes to access passwords saved on your browser is to enter the Windows password!
Is Your Password 100% Secure?
If you have followed every tip in this article, it is safe to say it is pretty close! However, you have to keep in mind that online services store your data and these sites are always at risk. Therefore, you should consider changing your passwords every 6 months or every year, especially for websites containing sensitive information, such as e-commerce sites.
Always Use SSL Encryption
No matter how secure your password is, it is no good if you enter it into or store it on an unencrypted page. This is why you should make sure you are using SSL-encrypted websites. Check the address bar on your browser and make sure the website you’re on is not using the “HTTP” protocol. HTTP means the connection is insecure and your password can easily be intercepted. If you notice this, switch immediately to “https”. It all depends on your browser type. Chrome browser, for example, will show you whether the current page is secure or insecure.
Always Use Secure File Transfer Services
A secure password will be of little help if you share your business files using insecure file transfer services. This is why you need FileWhopper. It is a cloud-based service that allows you to share files and folders of any size. It encrypts your data during transfer (preventing hacks and interception) and generates a random password that ensures nobody else can access your data after it has been uploaded. You can protect the data with a password of your choice if you like. You are also given a download link that you should share with whomever you wish to download and view your file or folder. FileWhopper’s military-grade encryption ensures that any file or folder you share through this service can only be accessed by the people you choose. And the best part? The first transfer of up to 5GB is free!
Check out other articles on personal data protection in this blog to make sure you implement the best practices for keeping your personal information secure.