Some Do’s, Don’ts and Maybe You Should(s)
Qwerty, football, baseball, princess and 12345678 have at least three things in common:
- Year after year, they top various lists of worst passwords
- They are easy to remember
- They are simple for cyber criminals to guess
Hackers love these passwords because they make their jobs of stealing personal information a breeze.
Passwords are required for just about anything you do online. Want to access your personal email? Enter a password. How about your work email? Another password. Is it time to check the balance in your bank account or how much you owe on a credit card? Password. Password. How about book an appointment with your hair stylist? You guessed it—password.
It’s tough to remember the plethora of passwords you’ve created, particularly when you’re required to change them frequently and sites require different parameters that include upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers and special characters.
If you are like many people, you choose passwords that are easy to remember, such as those listed at the beginning of this blog post, your children’s names, birthdays, or the year you were born. Worst yet, you use the same password across multiple sites—a hacker’s dream! This is akin to opening a door for hackers and allowing them to slither in, use your private data, and wreak havoc.
“From a security standpoint, you should never use the same password across multiple websites,” said Sherry Jackson, senior director of Privacy & Security for Crawford & Company®. “Doing so makes it easy for someone to steal personal information and also reset your passwords.
“You should also avoid using simple words, birthdates, and never, ever, should you write them down,” she said. “No sticky notes under the keyboard or your desk.”
Additionally, words found in the dictionary are easy passwords to crack. If you want to use the password celebrate, consider changing it to something such as $eLL-A-Br88t.
Jackson also suggests replacing passwords with passphrases, which are longer than passwords and contain spaces in between words. A passphrase could be the opening line of a favorite song, a novel, or even something like this: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Better yet, change the easily remembered phrase slightly. For example: The quick brown Fox jumps over the crazy Dog!
Here are some other pluses to passphrases:
- They are easier to remember than a random grouping of letters, numbers and symbols often found in passwords.
- They satisfy the oft-required password complexity rules.
- Online, state-of-the-art hacking tools make cracking passwords easy for criminals.
- They are tough to figure out because most advanced cracking tools can’t break a password of 10 or more characters.
Jackson also suggests using an app to manage your passwords and keep them secure. You can purchase one or choose from this pcmag.com list of 2017’s best free password managers.
Password managers store login information for all the websites you use and log into them automatically. They also encrypt your database of passwords with a master password. The one caveat is you must remember your master password. Read more about getting started with a password manager from howtogeek.com.
If you use one or more of the following passwords that are on the 2016 list of 25 worst passwords by SplashData, it’s time to up your creativity.
Do you have a tip on creating or remembering your passwords or passphrases? If you use a password manager, which one is best? Share your thoughts with Claims World readers.