The reason we need to talk about having a strong password is because there are still too many people that do not have strong enough passwords. There are a few ways that someone can steal your password and make your personal information insecure. One of these methods is the use of key loggers, which are viruses that can record the keystrokes you make on your computer and thereby find out your password. Nasty stuff. Another method of attack is when an attacker uses brute force or dictionary attacks to try and figure out your password. Today we will be talking about how to protect against this type of attack by creating an effective, complex, and therefore strong password.
When a hacker tries to "guess" your password they are basically trying thousands of different variations of words in an attempt to get into your account. It would be like a robber trying to break into a safe by trying different combinations for hours until they successfully find the correct combination. Unfortunately, thanks to modern computers, a hacker can effectively try millions of different passwords in seconds, which means that having a strong password is extremely important.
Let's Make a Strong Password
Now that we have some idea of what type of attacks we need to protect against, here are eight ways with which you can create a stronger password (or two, or ten) that is much more difficult to crack.
Don’t Use Common Passwords
This is one of the big no no's that you should really try to avoid. Too many people try to use passwords that they 'think' are safe, but are in fact the same passwords that everyone already uses. This makes those people very vulnerable to brute force and dictionary attacks. If you are worried that you may be using a very common password check out this list of common passwords below to see if you are using a common password.
Don’t Relate the Password to Yourself
When creating a strong password, always make sure to use obscure information that does not relate to you. When you use information that personally relates to you, it makes it much easier to guess your password. Avoid using things like your birthday, your favorite movies, your dog’s name, etc... The more random the password you can come up with, the better. A randomized password will make it much harder for a hacker (or anyone else) to guess the password you are using to secure your account.
Don’t Use Easy Sequences
As well as not using things that are related to you personally, be sure not to use common sequences either. This practice is much more widely used that it should be, and you should make sure to never make that mistake yourself. Sequences like 12345 or abcdef are easy to guess , and they make your account very vulnerable. Not to mention the fact that both of those passwords are far too short as well. That brings me to my next point...
Longer is Better
Regardless of complexity, it is always better to have a longer password because that makes it so much harder to crack. Each added character within your password exponentially multiplies the number of different possibilities that your password could be. While it's still important to have complex passwords, having a longer password that is easier for you to remember is a more secure option than a short, complex password that is hard to remember. If you want a strong password, go for a long one.
Complicated is Good
Even though a larger length is one of the most important facets of a strong password, adding complexity to your passwords is another way to create a stronger password. For one thing, it makes a password much more difficult to guess by a human. For another, it also adds to the different numbers of passwords your password could be.
Double is Trouble
This is one of those things that we all do far too often: using duplicate passwords in multiple places. This is dangerous for many reasons. The first reason is that some websites are less secure than others, so if you have an account on twitter, that password probably has less security than your Bank of America account would. Another reason not to use multiple passwords is that once someone hacks into one account, they now potentially have access to multiple different accounts depending on where you used those passwords. In cases like these, one strong password isn't enough!
Let's say you've made a strong password that's long, has complexity, and isn't related to you in any way. You still need to make sure that you change your passwords often, in order to stay secure. Otherwise, you are just giving attackers more time to go in and try to steal your account info. In order to stay as safe as possible, change your passwords frequently (about once a month) for your more valuable accounts.
Be Cautious with Your Password
Another thing to try and avoid is typing passwords into someone else’s computer. There is a lot of risk that goes into using someone else’s machine because there are a lot of variables that remain unaccounted for. You generally don't know what kind of antivirus software another user will have, what websites they visit, or whether or not their computer is already infected. Because of these variables, it’s generally best to avoid putting in your password on someone else’s computer. It adds quite a bit of risk to your security, and can make a strong password irrelevant.
These are the 8 best ways to create a secure, strong password and to avoid having it stolen. If you follow these tips, you'll be well on your way to having a strong password and a more secure internet experience!