In my day as a network administrator, I constantly harped about passwords. We were a close-knit group, a kind of family, and it was not uncommon for employees to share their passwords with their co-workers, or keep them on a sticky note under their keyboard, or even openly share a password in an email. It was common to use the same password for all work-related accounts, and use the same password for years, use the names of children, husbands, wives or dead pets as a password.
Since then, the bad guys have acquired new tools and insights for breaking in. Here’s how to reduce the chances of your password getting hacked.
4 Ways to Reduce the Chances of your Passwords Getting Hacked
One type of attack used back then that’s still around today, is the brute force attack. In a brute force attack, bots continuously guess common passwords in an attempt to log into an account. What used to take weeks or months back then, now takes hours or days. The harder the password, the less likely they will able to break into your personal accounts.
A dictionary attack is a way of guessing long passwords. It uses the same repetitive technique as a brute force attack but uses a list of common passwords and words from dictionaries and literature as the starting point for guessing.
And with the huge number of password breaches that occur every year, hundreds of millions of active passwords are out there on password-lists floating around in cyberspace, just waiting to be tried. Is your password already on one of those lists? It could be.
So, what makes a good password anyway, in these days of bots, A. I., brute force attacks, breached password lists and personal information all for sale on the dark web?
What makes a secure password?
There are a few things to consider when creating your next password that will reduce the chances of your password getting hacked. You’ve heard these things before but they’ve changed just a bit and can make the difference between being safe and secure and being hacked:
1-LENGTH: the longer the password, the higher the probability of it not being guessed. Strong passwords are long. How long? At least 12 characters. 16 or more is even better. The more characters, the more secure.
2-COMPLEXITY: make your password complex, by adding numbers and unique characters. This will change an easy-to-guess password into a more secure password. By adding numbers, characters, and a few upper and lower case letters, it will be much harder for bots to guess.
3-UNIQUENESS: have a unique password for each account. Don’t reuse your passwords. If an account becomes compromised, make sure that it’s an isolated event. Accounts that all use the same password have the potential to all become breached once that password is known.
The biggest complaint I used to hear is that long, complex passwords are really hard to remember. That’s even more accurate today. With long, complicated passwords we can end up locking ourselves out of our own accounts, which causes frustration, password resets and lost time. I hear ya! Been there, done that.
So we’re at the point now with password-security being an absolute necessity rather than just being a good idea or a good practice. You might want to check out some of the password managers out there, to further reduce the chances of your password getting hacked.
4-PASSWORD MANAGERS: I don’t endorse any products here, but generally, password managers are all very similar – they keep your passwords in a “vault” for you. You can enable them to auto-generate strong passwords for you, and to auto-fill your password when you log into a website. They’re worth investigating and checking out.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start making your passwords more secure today.
There. I hope I scared you a little.
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About the author
I developed Image and Aspect because I believe that professionals need to have an impactful web presence. One that showcases their unique talents, skills, and abilities as well as their values and style. A presence that focuses on social engagement and connection.
I’m passionate about what I do; I like helping fellow humans, I like having all kinds of social connection with others, and I want to give back, to make the world a better place.
I do much of the designing and coding myself, and I also have a wonderful network of professionals that may contribute as well; photographers, copywriters, branding experts.
I love designing and coding beautiful, elegant and responsive web creations. I ALSO teach and help others who want to learn how to do it themselves.
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Diane M. Metcalf, M.S.