It seems like everything these days requires a password. From social media accounts to online banking, we are constantly creating and entering passwords to protect our personal information. In fact, Dashlane.com stated in 2022 that the average internet user in has 240 online accounts that require a password. A strong password serves as a critical shield protecting your personal and sensitive information. According to a study by Digital Shadows, 65% more passwords were compromised in 2022 than 2020. With the rise of cyber-attacks and hacking attempts, it has become more important than ever to create a strong, unique and secure password.
Understanding the Significance of Strong Passwords
So, why are strong passwords so important? It’s because easily guessable ones are an open invitation for hackers to access your sensitive data. Weak passwords can be cracked in a matter of minutes. When compromised, they leave your personal information vulnerable. A strong, unique password, on the other hand, acts as a virtual lock, making it difficult for hackers to gain unauthorized access to your accounts.
The consequences of a compromised account can be severe. It can include anything from unauthorized financial transactions to identity theft. The fallout can be financially, emotionally, and psychologically distressing. In some cases, the compromise of one account can lead to a cascade of security breaches across multiple platforms.
The Anatomy of a Strong Password
A strong password is complex unique, and long. Avoid using common words, names, or phrases that are easy to guess. Instead, use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. The longer and more complex your password is, the more difficult it will be to crack.
Longer passwords are better:
Passwords should ideally be at least 12 characters long as longer ones are more challenging and take longer for attackers to crack. To remember a lengthy password, consider using a passphrase such as “thisismystrongpassphrase”. According to security.org, a password like this would take ten trillion years to crack. A short password such as “123456” can be cracked almost instantly.
Make it complex:
A strong password includes a mix of UPPERCASE letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. This combination adds complexity, making it harder for automated tools to access your information. Avoid using easily guessable substitutions, such as ” Th1si$Mystr0ngPassW0rd!” instead of “thisismystrongpassphrase”. By adding a single special character to a common 10-character password can increase the time it takes for hackers to hack your account by 1.5 hours. (Digital Shadow, 2022). Adding a combination of characters, numbers upper case, and lower case letters makes the length of time to crack exponentially longer.
Make it unpredictable:
A survey done by Beyond Identity in 2021 found that of those who’ve tried to guess someone else’s password, 18.4% said they looked through their social media profiles beforehand to find helpful information. Additionally, that survey found that 1 in 10 individuals believe that someone could correctly guess their passwords just by looking at their social media accounts. When you’re creating a password, it’s best to resist the temptation to use easily guessable information. Avoid things like birthdays, names, or common words that are found while perusing your online presence. Instead, create one that is unpredictable and unrelated to your personal information. If you struggle with creating them, a password manager can help generate random, complex passwords that are virtually uncrackable.
Make it unique:
With so many logins to remember, individuals tend to reuse passwords on at least 10 of their personal accounts. (Ponemon Institute, 2020). A 2022 report from LastPass shows that 89% of people realize that using the same password is a security risk. However, even with this knowledge only 12% actually change their habits for creating them. Using the same password or variation of it puts your information at risk and have disastrous consequences. If one account is compromised, hackers can access all your accounts with the same password. They can easily move to a similar variations in a matter of minutes.
Additional Security Ideas
Did you know that only 34% of Americans regularly change their passwords? In fact, according to a 2022 report by PC matic, 31% of users have not changed it at all or aren’t sure when they last it. Regularly updating your passwords reduces the risk of an old ones falling into the wrong hands. It also helps limit the amount of time a hacker can spend in your account. If someone has accessed your account without your knowledge, changing it will kick them out of the account.
Cybersecurity experts suggest changing your passwords every 3 months. When you are changing it, be sure to change all of your accounts especially for sensitive accounts like email, online banking, or social media or home wi-fi. Need help remembering when it’s time to change? Set a reminder on your calendar. If you suspect suspicious activity on your account, change it immediately. This helps to prevent hackers from gaining access to your accounts over a long period of time.
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):
Multi-factor use is on the rise. In fact, a 2022 report shows that as much 71% of users are authentication methods besides a simple password to access accounts. Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts. It typically requires you to enter a code sent to your phone or email in addition to your password, making it more difficult for unauthorized users to access your accounts. The added layer of security helps thwart most credential theft attacks. Recent studies show that multi-factor authentication can stop 96% of bulk phishing attacks and 76% of targeted attacks. If you aren’t using MFA, it’s a good idea to start now. You won’t regret it.
Use a Password Manager:
A password manager is a valuable tool that generates, stores, and automatically fills complex passwords for your various accounts. It not only helps in creating strong passwords but also relieves you of the burden of remembering them all. Some will even update passwords automatically, and notify you when any of your accounts are compromised. With just one master passphrase, you can access your entire vault, securely storing all your login credentials. Not only does this make it easier for you to log in to your accounts, but it also ensures that they are strong and unique, reducing the risk of being hacked.
By using a password manager, you can maintain a strong and secure digital fortress without the hassle of remembering multiple passwords. It’s like having a personal assistant dedicated to protecting your online accounts. So why not take advantage of this powerful tool and safeguard your valuable information today? Your digital security is worth it.
In a world where the internet is an integral part of our daily existence, strong passwords have become the keys to our digital kingdom. As responsible and informed netizens, it’s our duty to uphold the principles of online security by creating and maintaining robust passphrases. With these principles in mind, we can fortify our digital fortresses and ensure a safer, more secure
Need help training your users to use strong passphrases?
Don’t be overwhelmed by all the potential threats out there. Contact us. We will take the time to teach your team how to protect their personal and corporate data by creating strong passphrases! Remember that a little effort goes a long way when it comes to safeguarding your information. By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your personal information remains safe and secure.
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