Even with all the powerful technology today’s hackers have access to, breaking into someone’s account often comes down to guessing a password. Or at least that’s often the easiest way to gain access to an account.
So how can you make a hacker’s life tougher while protecting your identity and security? Keep reading to find the top 3 most important things to know about password security:
Every week, it seems like some company is inadvertently leaking hundreds of thousands of passwords onto the internet. Sometimes, these passwords are exposed by hacking attacks. In other cases, they leak out as a result of poor database security.
No matter how your password leaks out, once it’s on the internet, it will be difficult to remove. And while Yahoo might have been the company that leaked your password in the first place, your security problem becomes a whole lot worse if you used that password for multiple websites.
If your password gets leaked for some video game fan forum account, then it’s not a big deal. But if that password is linked to your email, then anybody could suddenly gain access to your Facebook account, email address, and whatever other accounts use the same password/username combination. Be smart and always choose different passwords for your most important accounts.
A better idea: Create unique passwords across all your accounts
Every time a new list of passwords gets leaked, statisticians compile a list of the most common passwords from the list. And it’s always surprising to see the most common passwords that people choose. In 2012, analysts took a look at the six million LinkedIn accounts that were stolen and came up with this list of the most commonly used passwords from that list:
Do you see your password on that list? If so, you should probably change your password as soon as possible. Or else you’re sharing your password with literally thousands of people around the world. All somebody has to do is look at this list, try the top 25 passwords there, and they may just gain access to your account.
Some of the common passwords are expected. Like ‘password’ and ‘1234’ and ‘qwerty’. But what about people who have a dog named ‘shadow’ or use their favorite car ‘mustang’ as a password? According to data from six million LinkedIn accounts, you’re not alone.
Sexual innuendo jokes aside, passwords become stronger the longer they get. A few years ago, PC security experts recommended that people start using 8-character passwords in order to make it virtually impossible for someone to hack into an account. After all, the amount of processing power required to crack an 8-charcater password would basically be beyond the realm of possibility.
Well, that was a few years ago, and hacking technology has caught up. Today, PC security experts are recommending that people choose passwords up to 12 or 14 characters in length. This will make them virtually impossible to hack – at least for another five to six years.
Remember: nobody thinks hacking or identity theft could happen to them. And thousands of people are being proved wrong every day. If you want to protect yourself, make sure you follow all the suggestions listed above.