Are your passwords easy to hack?

 In Security

Passwords are a necessary evil of modern life, but did you know that your passwords are probably leaving you open to the very real possibility of being hacked?

Best practice password management, while not the most interesting topic in technology, is critical to protecting your information and privacy. It’s an area that many people struggle with, either because it’s not perceived as being important or because it’s put in the “too hard” basket.

How do your passwords stack up, and why should you care?

The biggest risk with poor passwords is that your account gets hacked and your confidential and private information gets stolen. Your private information can then be used for identity fraud and can cause all manner of problems including damage to your credit rating preventing access to loans.

This article outlines the devastating impact that identify fraud can have.

Of course there are many terrible things that can happen after an account hack and, as always with these things, prevention is better than cure.

Make safer passwords

Two key elements form the foundation of safe passwords:

  1. You should have a different password for each and every portal or account that you use.
  2. The password you choose should follow a set of rules making it hard to hack.

For most people, the limit to the number of separate passwords you can remember is around eight, but most of us will have more than eight different portals or accounts that we log into.

In an article I wrote earlier this year, I talked about how I remember more than 100 passwords. The trick is to use a password manager and, while it is not a perfect solution, it certainly makes life easier and more secure.

Now let’s talk about those rules that you should use when setting passwords.

A good password should be easy to remember and hard to guess

The single biggest factor in determining the difficulty to guess or hack a password is the length.

Suppose you construct an 11-character password according to the guidelines most websites recommend; with a selection of capital and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. An example would be something like “De29%#!oe”. It’s difficult to remember, and a good-sized computer can crack it in three days. This is not a good password.

Now, what about a password like “Coco Pops. Not a very g00d breakfast food!”, it’s easy to remember and it still has a selection of numbers, letters and symbols; but the earth will cease to exist before its been cracked.

Here’s a really simple comic that shows you how to make passwords that are easy to remember and hard to hack.

I really hope after you read this that you have a greater appreciation for your passwords and take the time to update and improve your own password practices. If you manage a team of people then I highly recommend educating them on this as well. If you’re worried about your password security or need help setting up LastPass, drop me a line at the Proactive office and I’ll help you get it sorted.

It will be one less thing you need to worry about.

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