How to make a password that doesn’t suck.
In the digital world, passwords are required for nearly everything we do; for our computers, phones, websites, accounts and much more.
Unfortunaly though, for the most part, passwords really suck. They can be really hard to remember and because of this, we end using easily guessable words or reuse the same passwords everywhere.
If you’re guilty of reusing, rotating or using easy passwords, then this guide is for you.
Want to find out how you can help improve your cyber security?
Common password hacking
Cyber-criminals have a number of tactics that they use to find out passwords and access accounts. One way they do this is through the dark web where there is a huge market for the buying and selling of login credentials and passwords. Therefore, if you haven’t changed your password in a while, there is a high chance it will be floating around on the dark web in a file. According to research, around 25% of the stolen credentials on the dark web can successfully be used by cyber crooks to gain access to functioning Google accounts!
If you are one of the lucky (and clever!) ones who have managed to keep their password off this list, then cyber-criminals will have to find ways to crack your passwords. Two commonly used methods are below:
Brute Force Attack – This is the simplest method cyber-criminals use where they use a software which will try and guess every possible combination until it hits yours. The most commonly used passwords are very easy for them to crack as these are the ones they will start with. While it may be inevitable for this method to crack your password, if you use a very complex password with capitals, symbols and numbers, you can make it a VERY long time before they do. Want to find out how long it would take a hacker to crack your password? Use this free password-cracking time calculator here.
Dictionary Attack – With dictionary attacks, the clue is in the name. It works by all dictionary words being systematically entered in the hope they hit yours. The only way to survive an attack like this is if you use multiple word phrases or a very uncommon word. As the dictionary includes many of the most common passwords, it is a very brief and easy way of attacking.
Cyber-criminals are advancing all the time as are the tools they use. Some say you can never be truly safe from them. However, if you create strong passwords, you will help minimise the risk of them being cracked.
Password tips and techniques
If you want to keep yourself and your personal information protected, you must start by knowing how to create a strong password. Are you guilty of using some of the most common passwords in the world? Check out some of the worst passwords of 2019 here.
It goes without saying, but your password shouldn’t be able to be guessed easily. Below is a list of things never to do when it comes to creating and storing your passwords.
– Use your name, family member or pet names, important dates such as anniversaries and birthdays or special places.
– Use the word ‘password’ or a sequential list of letters or words.
– Use the same password for different accounts. If a hacker gets hold of one password, they will try it with your other accounts.
– Use dictionary words. Whilst you may think picking a random word is safe, it’s not. Common hacking programmes can guess these easily.
– Write your password down. Anyone could come into contact with that post-it note or piece of paper you wrote it on. If you struggle to remember your passwords, consider using a password manager such as Dashlane or LastPass. They remember everything for you apart from the master password. If you struggle to create more complex, security proof passwords. they can also help with that.
Now you know what never to do when it comes to your passwords, we have gone through two different techniques you may find useful when creating a strong password.
Bruce Schneier’s Method – Take a sentence and turn it into a password using a rule, for example if you took the first two letter of each word of ‘The Cat is Happy Eating her Food’ your password would be ‘ThCaisHaEaheFo’. It would also be good to add symbols and numbers into this.
Keyboard as a canvas method – Treat your keyboard as a canvas and use it to draw patterns that are meaningful and memorable to you. For example, the shapes could be your initials or a geometrical shape.
Furthermore, many experts are now advising people to turn on two-factor or multi-factor authentication. Doing this will add that extra layer of security and help you confirm your identity.
Multi-factor authentication is a combination of the three things you:
1. know (e.g a password)
2. have (e.g your mobile phone)
3. are (e.g your fingerprint)
As these three elements are not always easy to do, two-factor authentication is a combination of the first two. Both of these can hugely decrease the chance of you being hacked and are gradually becoming the new industry standard for effective security.
Password security isn’t something you should be ignore. It is paramount if you want to keep not only your accounts and personal information protected, but for keeping your identity safe. If a cyber-criminals manages to gain access to anything with your personal information, you could be one of the unlucky ones who are a victim of identify theft. This will not only impact you financially but can cause emotional strain as well.
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