The problem with weak passwords
Like most of us, you probably have dozens of accounts that you use to access information online. From logging on to your computer and other devices, to connecting to the internet, checking your emails and liking a Facebook post, to transferring some funds from one bank account to another and then ordering Uber Eats – each of these accounts store your personal (and occassionally financial) information so it can be accessed again later.
The need to use passwords to protect our personal information is obvious, and is often the first line of defense. The problem with weak passwords is that they can be decoded in a fraction of a second. With hackers using software that can make as many as 8 million password guesses a second, a weak password used to protect your information can be cracked instantly and is essentially the same as not having a password at all.
How can I create a stronger password?
Luckily, there are a number of steps we can take to help us create stronger passwords. First of all, it is important to understand that weak passwords are often made up of simple, short words (4-8 characters) and lack uppercase letters, numbers and special characters. They are often be made up of numerical sequences (e.g. 123456) and personal information (e.g. date of birth, street address) as well.
Strong passwords contain 12-16 charatcers, using a mix of upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters.
When first thinking about creating a stronger password, we should really be thinking about creating a passphrase instead. A simple password like ‘Security’ can be cracked instantly using computer algorithms, but a passphrase like ‘ITakeSecuritySeriously’ would take up to 45 quintillion years to get past (according to www.howsecureismypassword.net).
One way to create a passphrase is to combine at least 4 different words (which have a significant meaning to you) to make a new word of 12-16 characters (e.g. SunSandSaltSurf). Adding numbers and special characters will strengthen this passphrase even further (e.g. @5un5and5alt5urf!).
Updating existing passwords with easy to remember passphrases may take a bit of time, but is the best way to safeguard your information from the outset. Remember to avoid using any personal information when creating your passphrases, and always use a unique passphrases for each account.
Two-Factor Authentication - What is 2FA?
While we’re on passwords, try to always use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) when it’s available. 2FA adds a second layer of security to your account password or passphrase. It works by verifying your identity by sending a code, security token or password to another of your devices, or by using biometrics to scan your fingerprint, face or voice.
Remember that nothing is ever 100% secure, and 2FA can also be vulberable to hackers. If someone is able to access the email account associated with your 2FA information, your password could quickly be reset and 2FA could be completely bypassed – leaving you locked out of your account. Always monitor your email account for any requests for password changes.
As you can see, it doesnt take much to create and start using stronger passwords – but this is only one piece of the puzzle. For more information on everything from firewalls to anti-virus software, feel free contact us here.