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Are your passwords at risk?

Team DeBug

In the tech business, we take password safety and security very seriously. Passwords protect private information, our finances, our files, our emails and even our identities. It’s why we celebrated World Password Day earlier this month and why we want you to be aware of common attacks people use to steal passwords, strong passwords tips to stop those attacks and how you can keep those passwords safe.

Password attacks

Brute-force attacks

This form of password attack uses software that automatically tries to “guess” your password by applying many combinations of letters, symbols and numbers as quickly as possible. Often, brute-force attacks start with commonly used or weak passwords like Password123 or ABC123 and have a higher likelihood of cracking shorter passwords.


Dictionary attack

A dictionary attack is almost exactly what it sounds like. Rather than randomly guessing characters or weak passwords, this attack uses words or common phrases from a dictionary. While easily remembered, short passwords made up of common words are easier to crack.


Phishing

We’ve mentioned phishing attacks several times before, and this probably won’t be the last time either. Phishing attacks are a newer form of attack that cyber-criminals use to trick you into willingly giving out your information. For example, a phishing attack whose goal is to obtain access to your bank or financial information may send you an email seemingly from your bank asking you to input your credentials into an authentic-looking website. From there, the criminal can either drain your accounts or hold your account ransom until you agree to pay a fee.

Creating Stronger Passwords

Long Passwords

The shorter a password, the easier it can be to decode. We recommend creating passwords with 12 or more characters.

Odd Phrases

Combining multiple words is a great way to reach your desired character length and odd words strung together can thwart dictionary attacks. You could pick an object or animal, a color, an adjective, or verbs and combine them. An example of this would be YellowVWRocksMyLife.

Mix up your characters

Adding on to the above tip, you should also use numbers, symbols and vary between upper and lowercase letters. So YellowVWRocksMyLife could turn into27YELLOW!vw_R0CK5MYLyFEo9.


Password Safety


Personal information

Using personal information in your passwords is a big no-no. Think about the information in your Facebook profile or information you would share with friends, like your wedding anniversary, kids’ names and birthdays, pet names, the name and location of your high school. The list goes on; if an attacker has this kind of information, they have a jumping-off point for deciphering your password.

Don’t reuse

Whenever possible, use a different password for your accounts. Using a single password could make it easier for hackers to gain access to private information.

Changing it

Experts use to recommend changing your password every 90-180 days, but this can actually make it harder for you to remember your passwords. If you’ve created a secure password, you should only change it when there has been an attempt (successful or otherwise) on your account.

Never Share
Passwords lose effectiveness when shared with other people. Never share your password, even with close friends. Additionally, if you must write your passwords down to remember them, put them in a spot away from prying eyes.

Keeping your information safe and secure in our online world is more important than ever. Attacks come from nearly every direction and they can be hard to keep up with, but using strong passwords and practicing password safety can protect your private information from cyber-criminals.