All it takes is a tap of the finger. Your new account is set up, time to start browsing. But wait… password123? That’s the password you’ve chosen to keep all your personal information safe?
It feels like every other day there’s another company data breach that puts all its user’s personal information at risk. With billions of people having various accounts across all social media and online marketplace’s, password security is an enormously important issue that isn’t taken nearly serious enough.
Creating a strong password is the first line of defence against intrusive hackers and identity imposters. Don’t fall victim to naivety – get safe now!
There are several motivations for why hackers will want to access your account. Whether it's access to your desktop workstation, server or your bank account, it’s important to understand why people are out to get you, so that you can learn to create a strong password in order to secure your information.
Firstly, there’s your generic hack, known as a brute-force attack. Whether someone is attacking a group of users, or just yourself, these attacks are motivated from wanting your information to steal your financial identity or personal information. Generally, the hacker will attempt to guess your password through repeated attempts, often using criminal applications that assist in cracking passwords. If they have information that will make this system easier, they will use it! Don’t give them this power. Luckily, most websites now inform users when multiple failed attempts have been made on their account.
Another option is people you know. Whether it’s to intrude on your personal information, or taking a peek at something to do with your personal life, these hackers are dangerous because they know you and this may make it easier to guess your password. Maybe they glimpsed you typing it, or you entrusted it with them. Paranoia aside, if you suspect somebody may be entering your accounts, make sure to change your password with a stronger, different equivalent as soon as possible.
The third, is the threat that has been most heavily publicized, as of late. Companies that we entrust our personal information too are still at risk from hacking and millions of people have fallen victim to these safety breaches online. Always look out for yourself first. Don’t just leave it to these companies to keep you safe.
Make your password strong so that your account isn’t weak! Make sure to make it at least 8 characters long. The longer the length, the harder the guess. Use phrases or sentences rather than single words. A shorter password means a shorter word for thieves to decipher.
Spice it up with capitals, numbers, and even symbols. Replacing certain letters with symbols is a good start – if you can remember it. Adding random capitals or numbers in your password will make your password near un-guessable if you think it through and make it easy to recall. For example: Iloveb00k$ is much more effective than ilovebooks.
Identity authentication has more than one option. A lot of websites and services allow you the option to verify your identity if there is an unrecognized attempt at a log-in from a device that isn’t your own. Usually they will text your mobile phone with a code, that is then used to prove that you are you.
Password managers exist. Trusted applications like LastPass and Dashlane create calculated passwords for every site that you use. But, remember, YOU have to remember these passwords.
NEVER let anyone know your passwords. This may sound a little bit harsh but it’s a no-brainer that if someone knows your password, your privacy is at risk. Even a slip of the tongue can get your password to people that you may not want to have it.
Don’t just have one password. If your data is leaked from an outside source, such as a company hack, the information they gain from that one hack could be used to access your other accounts.
Use a password that is relevant to only you. Use something from your past that only you can know, such as a pet name or where your parents lived when you were growing up – then spice it up with the tactics mentioned earlier.
Dictionary words can literally be looked up in a book. The hacker just has to open a dictionary, find a word that has the same number of letters as your password, and they can find it with a little help from technology. Using phrases as your password counters this.
Be wary of outside links. If you get an email from a recognizable website, be sure to check the senders email. Phishers exist. Phishing is a fake email scam that links to a harmful website, perhaps with malware, or tricks you into typing your personal email and password into the website that it claims it to be affiliated with, misleading you into handing your data on a plate to the hackers. Be sure to check the actual website. For example, if it’s an Amazon email claiming you need to double-check an order you’ve just made, be sure to log onto actual Amazon.co.uk and check your account.
Are your devices secure? Even with the safest password, malicious software has been designed to gather your information without you even being aware. Keyboard logging, for example, records a user’s keystrokes to steal passwords and information. Check your anti-virus software and keep it up to date! People don’t have to look over your shoulder when you’re typing a password for them to get it.