Let’s just admit it: the passwords we use online are not very good. And we probably use the same one over many different online accounts.
Maybe you have had your accounts hacked in the past (who among us has not had their Facebook account hacked?), or maybe you haven’t, but it’s good to remember that our online security is only as good as our weakest password.
How Easy It Is For Hackers to Figure out Your Passwords
Security experts know just how easy it is to guess our passwords. Over 20% of us use the same top-10 passwords, such as our pet’s names, our date of birth, “password,” or a string of numbers (“1234” or “9876”).
So that’s one easy way for hackers to figure out our passwords. But hackers have another trick up their sleeves, which is known as a brute force hack. Basically, hackers use huge databases of words to eventually crack your password.
Since we mostly use easily guessable passwords, a brute force attack would only need a couple of seconds to figure out our password and access our account.
But here’s the important point: it becomes infinitely harder for hackers to access our accounts even using brute force attacks if we don’t use a password which contains words that are found in the dictionary.
So a good rule of thumb for passwords is to make sure you do not use any real words.
Your Weakest Password Compromises Everything
You probably use a stronger password on your online bank account than you do for your email account. After all, if someone hacks your Gmail account, what’s the worst that could happen? Maybe they could send a spam message to all of your friends and family, right?
Wrong. If a hacker gains access to your Gmail account, he or she could get access to your online bank account by simply clicking Forget password on your banking website.
So make sure that every password you use is a strong one, and do not use the same password across multiple sites. If one of your passwords is compromised, you do not want to make it that much easier for cyber criminals to infiltrate all of your accounts.
Password Safety Tips
Below are some good safety tips when choosing passwords:
- Change your password often. A good rule of thumb is once every six months.
- Randomly substitute numbers for letters that look similar. For example, use ‘@” for the letter “a.”
- Randomly use capital letters (e.g., Mod3l@F0rd).
- Use a place you love, a specific car, or a favorite restaurant.
- Use a random password generator and organizer like LastPass to create, organize, and store all of your online passwords. It’s a free service and allows us to not have to remember all of our different passwords.
Remember, once our online accounts are compromised, we can’t put the genie back into the bottle. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and make sure that none of our passwords are compromising our security.