It seems like everything you do on the Internet today requires some kind of password, which makes sense considering the number of cyber attacks that happen every day. Reports show that there were over 4,000 ransomware attacks a day in 2016. With so many ransomware attacks occurring all the time, having strong passwords has never been more important.
The time for using your birthday, address, mother’s maiden name, ‘123456’, and anything easy to guess has long passed. Here are some of the best ways to create strong passwords and to secure your information.
Besides avoiding the passwords listed above, there are many other things that can help you keep your information safe; don’t use a single case, but rather a good mix of upper and lower cases, which can drastically strengthen your passwords.
Make them long. If your passwords are six characters or less, it’s time to extend your horizons. The longer and more complex you make your passwords, the more difficult it will be for hackers to ever crack them. Studies by mSecure show that a brute force attack can crack a 6 character password in 11 hours, but it would take 10 years to crack one that is 9 characters.
Finally, use characters other than letters and numbers. These include _, #, &, $, etc. The more complex and erratic you make a password, the harder you make a hacker’s life.
Learn from gamers:
Names get taken fast in the online world, which forces people to get creative with their online identities. They will use random numbers, letters, and misspellings. This is done to get the name that people want when that identity has already been taken. You can apply this to your passwords as well.
In the online world, an ‘E’ can become a ‘3’, an ‘A’ can become a ‘4’, an ‘O’ can become a ‘0’ and so on. Misspellings are also helpful when gamers want to create an identity for themselves. Change a ‘Z’ to an ‘X’, add an extra ‘R’ or ‘S’, or change an ‘S’ to a ‘Z’. For example, the name “The Agent Zero” can become something more crafty like “Th3 4g3nt X3r0”.
Use this premise when creating your passwords, think of a spelling that nobody else would ever consider. Many brute force attacks will go through the dictionary and try every single word until it finds one that works. Swap out certain letters for numbers and spell things wrong on purpose in a way that you can remember. This way, brute force attacks will have to use other means to try and decipher your password.
Make a sentence:
A one-word password can be easy to crack, which is why it is smart to come up with a sentence that only you can remember. No need to use the whole sentence, just parts to make it even more confusing.
Take a simple statement like, “In the year 2000 I turned 9 years old”. It’s something simple, personal and easy to remember. Now change that sentence into a complex code only you can remember, “iTy#2tH0us4nd-It_nIn3Yo”. Now you have a complex password that’s pretty much impossible to crack.
Let’s say someone gets your information and breaks your password. A scary thought to be sure, but there are certain precautions you can take to further your security. Multi-factor authentication is one of those precautions. Multi-factor authentication is used to verify your identity when your account is accessed from an unrecognized device.
If any suspicious logins occur, a message is sent to your email or device to alert you. Many businesses already use multi-factor authentication to protect their clients’ information – you too should enable it wherever you can. This way, if anyone ever breaks through your password, you will be notified immediately so you can reset it and kick the hackers right out of your account.
Secure your devices
The best passwords in the world are of no use if you don’t secure the devices they are used on. If you have a PC, make sure that you have good antivirus software installed to prevent malware from stealing information. Some pieces of malware, known as “keyboard loggers”, can record all of your keystrokes and enable hackers to crack your passwords. Keep your information safe and secure by keeping your antivirus up-to-date at all times.
You should always have the mentality that your information is never completely secure when using public Internet or devices. If you log in to an account on a public computer like at a library or a school, make sure to log out. It would be terrible if you went through a bunch of precautions to keep your information safe and then did something careless like leaving your online profile logged in, in a public place, for anyone to see and access. Don’t ever access important information like your bank account with a publicly open Internet connection or public device. Also, be mindful of when you are logged into a device and when you need to log out, especially if that device does not belong to you.
As passwords keep all of your information safe, make an extra effort to make them strong. Take these tips, improve on them and keep hackers away from your information. Also, remember to use different passwords for all of your many online accounts. Using only one password can make it easy for a hacker to access all of your different accounts. And, of course, be sure to come back to the HostPapa blog for more helpful tip and tricks!