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