Stories of people being hacked online are becoming more common these days. Many people have had their accounts, whether Facebook or Twitter, compromised. Avoiding these kinds of hacks means that one needs to use stronger passwords, but this won’t keep you secure from all the threats out there.
It is also important to ensure that there is a secure password for every service you use.
“Most sites today require a combination of capital letters, numbers and occasionally a special character. However, there are common patterns that most of us tend to use, like starting with a capital letter and ending with a couple of numbers. If a special character is required, we typically place it on the end. The bad guys know this. With machines equipped with today’s off-the-shelf processing power, even these seemingly complicated passwords are cracked in relatively short time”, said Martin Walshaw, Senior Engineer at F5 Networks.
Sometimes you are tempted to recycle your password mainly because it is easier to remember. It is okay to recycle but only if the website does not store any store personal information. You should always memorize your password never write it down. Other services like a password management tool could help with storing your password. These services automatically generate passwords and allow you to select the level of complexity, pattern type, and length.
“So, what happens when the bad guys acquire your credentials? You might think the password is hashed or encrypted and are therefore protected. In the case of LinkedIn 2012 data set, the SHA1 algorithm was used, which is now considered a broken hash and should not be used. To make things worse, the passwords were hashed without first being “salted” (i.e. adding more data to the password to hide its true meaning),” said Walshaw.
How then do you create the perfect password? Here is a list of 5 ways to help you create a password that is harder to crack.
1. Longer is better.
The more characters a password has, the harder it becomes for people to get it right. Mix letters, numbers, and punctuation and, when possible, include both uppercase and lowercase letters. Made up or altered words are better than actual words. You should go for passwords that are a minimum of 12 to 14 characters in length. A longer password would be even better.
2. Avoid calendar dates
As part of the numeric portion of the password. Don’t use account numbers or other billing information as part of a password. Passwords like “123456” are still the most used. Don’t Do This. It is easier for hackers to crack such passwords.
3. Avoid personal information
Personal information that can easily be looked up or verified should be avoided. The use of adjacent keys or consecutive numbers are easy for others to notice and should be avoided.
4. Use a password manager
One other way to keep track of all those passwords is to use an online password management option. These tools are easy to set up and useful in helping you manage all your passwords. They have strong encryption and allow you to unlock and auto-fill your passwords and other information with one master password.
5. Separate your passwords
Maintain a separate password for each highly sensitive account, such as email, financial institutions, and social media.
“The fact is that more than 1.1M people chose the password “123456” and nearly 190,000 people chose “password”. If people are using such configurations for LinkedIn, then there is a good chance they are adopting the same password on more sensitive sites, such as bank accounts, which might be more interesting to cybercriminals”, said Walshaw.
Walshaw advises people to be responsible for their personal information. He said, “Cybercriminals spend enormous effort trying to access your information for unscrupulous commercial gain. By adopting best practice and investing in personal security, your vital credentials will remain encrypted, which means that should a hack take place then you automatically devalue the stolen data for the cybercriminal. Don’t ignore the dangers of the Dark Web – cybersecurity is all of our responsibility. Stay safe.”