As the world shifts to a more data-oriented society, securing data and protecting it from outside parties is of paramount importance to both individuals and corporations. Passwords are an important component of data security. According to one estimate, the first six months of 2019 witnessed over 3,800 breaches worldwide that exposed more than 4.1 billion user records to hackers. Here are some tips to aid you when you set or renew your passwords.
According to a 2018 Verizon report, almost 81 percent of data breaches involving hacking were due to stolen or weak passwords. This should give you a good idea why a strong password is of critical importance to keep your accounts safe. Even after repeated advice, people tend to use simple passwords like their name, or the name of their loved one, their pet, a place name, etc. Never do this. Always set up a password at least 8 to 10 characters long that includes uppercase letters, lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.
Whenever possible, implement 2-factor authentication to access your accounts. “This can involve the use of a PIN and a password and a series of security questions. It can also include the use of a security key. The only way to access the account is to have both pieces of the puzzle to unlock the code. If one piece is wrong, you cannot access the account,” according to Surrey Now Leader.
Never keep the password of an account the same for a long time. The longer a password is used, the higher the risk that it will get cracked eventually. This is especially true for companies where an account password might be shared among multiple employees. Passwords might be shared between family members or friends. One of these people making a mistake will compromise your account. Setting a new password once every 3 or 4 months should be a good enough protection measure against such risks.
If you manage several accounts, you might find it difficult to remember all their passwords. Some people also end up making the mistake of setting up “similar” passwords just to avoid the complexity of having to deal with multiple passwords. This will only compromise the security of their accounts. A better way to deal with the situation is by using password managers.
“With password managers, you only need remember one password, as the password manager stores and even create passwords for your different accounts, automatically signing you in when you log on,” according to Small Biz Trends. The drawback is if the main password gets cracked, the hacker can get access to all your accounts. So only use it if you are absolutely sure that your main password will be very strong and unbreakable.
If you intend to use words in a password, consider using words from languages other than English. Better still, try combining words from multiple languages. “Many hackers use “dictionary attacks,” where they take a list of common English words or phrases and run a brute force attack based on every combination of these phrases. Basically, if you use common English phrases in your passwords, they can be cracked much more quickly by skilled attackers,” according to Secplicity.
Avoid storing passwords
There are people who are so afraid of forgetting their passwords that they end up storing them on their computers. Some even end up storing passwords in a text file with the file name of ‘password’! If you do any such things, stop that habit immediately. Delete all such files. Depend on your mind to remember all the passwords. If you forget, you can depend on one-time passwords or other password recovery measures to get back the account. In case you really feel the need to record the password, try writing it down in a book in some obscure place only you can remember and keep it in a secure location.