For followers of various cybersecurity news sources, it is a sad reality that millions of people are impacted every day by password breaches carried out by malicious sources. Due to the hackability of the average individual’s password list, businesses across a variety of industries are constantly experiencing a need for more secure passwords.
While the news consists of password breaches of large corporations, they aren’t the only ones that are commonly affected. Individuals are often the subject of identity theft and other fraudulent activity due to the fact that their passwords were compromised by acts such as phishing e-mails or a hack of the home network.
We at LMG have identified three tips for creating secure passwords so that you can effectively keep your sensitive information safe.
Consider Length and Complexity
While it is important that passwords are unique to the individual that is creating it, there are some generally accepted guidelines that should be followed when creating a secure password.
First, it is important to consider the length of the password. A password is considered to be secure if it is in the ballpark of 8-12 characters, but longer is always better in terms of passwords. When there are more characters included in a password, it will take more work for a hacker to crack it.
It is also important to include elements such as uppercased letters, numbers, and special characters. For example, adding an asterisk or replacing an A with the number 4 will be extremely effective of improving the complexity of the password. When creating a password, it is important to stay away from nouns that describe popular names and places, since they tend to be widely known and are easier to crack.
Never Re-Use Passwords
Think of your password as a key. For platforms housing sensitive information such as online banking sites, the password that you use unlocks the ability to access highly sensitive information and make changes to the account. When you re-use passwords, the probability that the information can be accessed and abused grows exponentially.
For example, you might think it appropriate to use the same password for your home Wi-Fi and your bank account. Consider the fact that when you invite guests to your home, you offer your Wi-Fi password to them without thinking twice about it. While family members will most likely withhold that information from outsiders, it is important to consider the people that you offer that password to. If word were to get out about you Wi-Fi password, that would be the first thing that a hacker would try when attempting to access your other accounts.
You would never use the same key for your home, car, office, and safe deposit box, so it only makes sense to use different passwords for different online platforms. There are a variety of password management software options in existence that will allow you to create, store, and organize your passwords. Some great examples include LastPass, KeepPass and 1password.
Make Sure That It’s Something You Will Actually Remember
It is important to consider the fact that a password is useless if its creator can’t remember it. When passwords become too complex for the average individual to remember, they present the issue of physical security since the passwords are usually written down and displayed in a place that anyone can see it (i.e. inside desk drawers, posted on computer monitors, or in a note on the computer’s desktop). In order to assure that a secure password can be committed to memory, it is important to get creative in its creation.
One common way to create a password that is easy to recall is to form a sentence comprised of words that are meaningful to you and shorten it into single letters, characters, and symbols.
For example, if I were passionate about the positive effects of goat cheese on human health, I might say “Goat cheese is good for the soul!” This sentence could be shortened to “gcIg4ts!” which holds meaning to me, but would seem completely random to a third-party individual.
There has also been a recent movement towards utilizing “PassPoems” to create poetry with random words that can be strung together to create a password. These passwords offer security due to the fact that they are comprised of random words, and tend to include many characters.
By following these guidelines on password creation, you will allow yourself peace of mind and increased security surrounding your sensitive information. As always, send any questions or comments to [email protected]security.com.