A strong, well-secured password is your first defense against imposters and intruders. Access to your bank accounts, your streaming services, your email and more all depend on the strength of your password.
However, the challenge of creating distinct passwords that are strong yet easy to remember force many to opt for a simple password or use the same password across many accounts.
A 2016 study found that that the most common passwords on the internet are “password” and “123456.” These passwords are as easy to hack as they are to remember. And, if you use this simple password on your account – which 92% of online users do – you put all your accounts at risk.
Wondering how to secure your online accounts? Keep reading for our top 10 tips on creating strong passwords.
Don’t Use Obvious Information
Using “password” and other sequential letters or numbers is the worst mistake you can make online. Create unique options that don’t include personal information such as your name, address, car number or date of birth.
Why? If you are being specifically targeted, rest assured, the hacker is well aware of all information about you.
Use Long Passwords
Hackers attempt to gain access through a myriad of techniques. The most common way is when they dig up information about you and manually play guesswork. More advanced forms include brute force attacks where a computer program runs through all possible combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols to find the right one.
Just remember; the shorter and less complex your article is, the easier it is to crack. Passwords of three characters can be cracked in less than a second. Opt for a minimum of eight characters but ideally, your password would be 16 characters.
Consider Using the Sentence Method
Sometimes known as the “Bruce Schneier Method,” the idea behind this is to take a random sentence and twerk it into a password.
For instance, some take a sentence and use the first two letters of that sentence as your password. If we use the sentence, “Cheesecake Factory is my favorite restaurant within ten minutes of my house,” the password would be “Chfaismyfarewitemiofmyho.”
The password looks like gibberish to everyone else except you. Make sure to choose a personal password.
Include Symbols, Numbers and Both Lowercase and Uppercase Letters
Randomly mix up numbers with symbols and symbols with letters. Substitute the O for zero or use the symbol @ instead of A. If the password is a sentence like mentioned above, you can capitalize every new word – which would also be easier to remember.
Do Not Reuse Passwords Across Accounts
When hackers manage to complete large-scale hacks into corporations, they tend to leak out the passwords and email addresses. If you use the same password across accounts, one leak could lead to hackers breaking into all your other accounts. Your passwords should always be unique.
Use a Password Generator and a Password Manager
As the name indicates, a password manager holds all your passwords securely from all websites and apps. You will not have to remember every password yourself. You will, however, need to remember the master password that will give you access to your password manager. You must use all the tips listed above when creating this password.
Many of these password managers also include password generators that create long, complex passwords with a simple click.
Reset Passwords Regularly
The more important an account is, the more often you must reset its password. After resetting, avoid using that password for a long while.
Use 2 Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication adds an additional layer of protection to your account. If your password is ever leaked out, having two-factor authentication enabled will help save time or completely repel any attempts to access your data.
While they were considered an extreme form of security a few years ago, two-factor authentication is heavily advocated for today. They are available for almost all social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well iCloud and Google accounts.
How two-factor authentication works is that another form of identification is used alongside your password. This can be your biometric information, a login code or a physical token. Cracking your password becomes only half of the puzzle.
Back in the day, codes that were sent to your smartphone through SMS were a popular form of authentication. But, 2018’s Reddit hack that was caused by SMS intercepts has led security experts to recommend using specialized authentication apps like Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator instead of SMS authentication. Authy is also a popular option one could consider.
These apps generate a one-time code you must enter when logging in and codes reset every thirty seconds.
Don’t Share Passwords
This seems like the most obvious of tips but it’s a surprisingly common mistake. Also, avoid typing out your password in plain sight of others and do not write down your passwords or password hints at your workspace or on notebooks. If you do have to maintain a sheet of your password, use a random file name so it’s not a dead giveaway to anybody snooping.
Check if your Passwords have ever been Stolen
Regardless of your best efforts, your passwords are always at the mercy of the cloud’s security. A data breach at your bank or a hack at your social media platform will quickly expose your password.
By being aware that your account is compromised, you will be able to respond to the leak faster.
Google has its own Password Checkup service while Mozilla has Firefox Monitor that shows which passwords and usernames have been compromised. Have I Been Pwned is another valuable resource that does the same task.
When it comes to online security, it is best to be proactive. By implementing the above tips and using password generators and managers, you can take that extra step to keep yourself, your family, and all your online information safe and secure.