We don’t really think much about accessing the Internet anymore. It has become such a constant in our daily lives (smart phones, social media, online banking, etc.), that we take it for granted. Letting our guard down in regard to Internet security is exactly what hackers are hoping for. Putting a little more thought into your password complexity can make it much more difficult for hackers to make you a victim of crime.
Most people choose passwords they can easily remember. That’s really the idea, isn’t it? What good is a password you can never remember? Because of this, people tend to choose references from their personal lives to make it easier to recall.
That is exactly what you should never do. You should also never use the same password for everything. No one wants to hear that, but it is probably the single biggest mistake to make. No one seems to worry about secure passwords for Facebook or other social media platforms, but, if you are using the same password for everything, a hacker will have the “keys” to your personal information, private life and even your money.
Hackers have different tools to gain access to your accounts. The most widely used is the personal attack, in which hackers use combinations of your personal information (mother’s maiden name, child’s name, pet’s name, birth dates, etc.) to figure out your password. The next tool is called a dictionary attack, which is exactly what it sounds like. It is a programme that will attempt words from the dictionary or a list until it finds the ones that will unlock your security. This is highly effective as it’s widely believed that around 10 per cent of all passwords used are secured with one of only 25 phrases.
Another way for hackers to break in is by brute force, using every combination possible until the correct one is found. Any password can eventually be cracked if there is enough time, so making passwords longer and more complex can deter a would-be hacker.
Ever wonder why you are often asked to choose a password with at least eight characters? It’s because passwords with eight characters can take up to 57 days to crack with brute force. So, try using 10 characters. Adding a capital letter, number, or symbol, or using character strings not in the dictionary makes it even more difficult to unravel.
Lastly, be sure to change your passwords from time to time so that if someone has stolen your password, they will no longer be able to access your information without the new password.
Blair S. Lilford is the founder/owner of SALT Technology Group Ltd.