October 7 - (4 Min Read)
When it comes to passwords I think we all have a love-hate relationship with them… Am I right?
There’s no denying that everyone gets a bit paranoid at the thought of having their devices and online accounts hacked. This is where passwords come in. They help keep prying eyes at bay and our information secure. And as good as that sounds, there’s that daunting realization that over time we’ll probably forget some or all of the passwords we create…and the more accounts we have, in turn the more usernames and passwords we have to remember. It really is a vicious circle!
On the sweet side, passwords hold immense value to us, they help keep all our files, photos, precious memories, video files and other sensitive information private. They are the most popular form of authentication today, and are the first line of defense against cyber criminals and hackers.
Passwords guarantee that your confidential information stays private. It’s by far the cheapest and simplest way of protecting your information. That is, if you stick to the rules! You can’t possibly have a password like; ‘Open Sesame’ and expect your accounts and info to be safeguarded. There’s a bit of science and fairy dust that goes into password creation. The idea is to make your passwords bulletproof and free from vulnerability!
So what makes a password safe and unbreachable?
Good question! Here’s how:
1. Think Length
The longer the password, the better! The probability is that hackers will find it more difficult to crack just because it’s longer. Ideally, create passwords that are at least 8 characters long. A password doesn’t need to be complicated. The more complex it is, the harder it will be to remember. Rather than complicating life even further, why not type in two more letters, numbers or symbols to spice it up a bit.
2. Mix it Up
Having a lengthy password is all well and good, however you still need to turn up the heat, otherwise all the effort would be in vain! It’s recommended that you create a password that requires great effort to crack, so don’t limit yourself and start thinking in terms of phrases. Also, don’t just consider the alphabet. Keep it weird and include numbers, lower and upper case letters as well as special characters. Example: 2BorNot2B_ThatIsThe? (To Be or Not To Be, That is the Question – Shakespeare)
3. Forget the Dictionary
If the password was chosen from a dictionary, chances are that someone will eventually guess it! Remember that most hackers make use of password cracking tools that are efficient, and have a proven track record at processing letter and number sequences in order to guess the correct combination and crack the code…Your code!
4. Never Use the Same Password Twice
Off the top of your head, can you recall how many passwords you have? If you have less than 5 different passwords, the probability is you’ve been using the same password over multiple platforms. Guilty?! Don’t worry, been there done that. However, speaking from experience this calls for a red card. Even if you’re forgetful and have problems remembering passwords, never ever double dip! A different password for each device, account, and service is required in today’s digital world as hackers will most probably take advantage of this.
5. Change your Password and Don’t Share
It’s recommended that every once in awhile, you change your passwords. You don’t need to change your password every day or month, it’s not required that you change them so often. If you change them regularly, you’re lessening your chances of actually remembering the password. Changing your passwords every 3 to 4 months should be enough.
Also, don’t leave your passwords available for others to see, for example on a sticky note on your desktop. If someone hacks your device you’re toast! You might want to consider a password-protection software, whereby you can store all your login details in one place. Such software even offers the possibility of generating strong passwords for you and automatically logs you in. All you would need to remember is one master password. Isn’t that sweet?!
6. Ignore Security Questions & Use Different Browsers
Why ignore security questions might you ask? Well, with all our personal lives laid out in plain sight on social media platforms, hackers find it easy to access such information, which is needed to reset your password, eventually leading them to taking control of your account or device. If you must answer the security question, try to deviate by answering the question with a completely unrelated answer. For example, if the security question asks for your pet’s name, your answer might be your favorite Shakespeare quote.
It is also recommended to use different browsers for different activities. The main reason for such a suggestion is so that if your browser gets infected by malware whilst checking out a particular page, your bank or other personal account is not necessarily exposed, just because you use a different browser for that kind of activity.
7. Extra Protection
In some cases a good password is enough, however just to be on the safe side, it’s always a good idea to layer up with other means of authentication to keep intruders out. You could always up your game with some 007 top secret cryptographic credentials, which usually take form of machine-readable keys and codes, or bio-metric identifiers such as fingerprint scanners for that extra security. This will certainly shake up hackers.
Keep in mind that a little attention to security goes a long way. Remember a rockin’ password keeps hackers away.
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