We also say we want to be safe online. Yet sometimes our actions betray our words—especially if we’re using simple, short passwords for our online sites. Passwords with less than eight characters are the easiest to crack, especially if they include a proper noun or a word that’s in a dictionary. Hackers especially love passwords of all one character. Lose the “ilovedogs” password please.
Take a look at your passwords. Are they simple and include an actual word, or are they long and unique? World Password Day. Take the pledge and change your passwords.
And don’t balk about changing your passwords; you must change them to be safe online. Your password is your first line of defense—not only for your online accounts, but also on your devices. Be like Nike and “Just Do It!” Think about this if you’re reluctant to change them:
- Research shows that 90% of passwords are vulnerable to hacking
- The most common password is “123456” and the second most common password, is “password”
- 1 in 5 Internet users have had their email or social networking account compromised or taken over without their permission
Now, believe it or not, a password of eight characters, even with various symbols and no dictionary words, can be cracked. However, a password the length of “Earthquake in the Sahara” would take over a million years to unearth. Ladies and gents, size does matter when it comes to passwords.
Ditch your old passwords
They may already be on the black market, and if not, it’s inevitable. Especially in this post Heartbleed time, we need to make sure we all change our passwords.
Think pass-sentence, not password
Just four words (with spaces) will make a killer password. Toss in punctuation. Create a sentence that makes no sense, like “Sharks swimming in the shower” and then add some space, numbers and special characters so it’s “Sh@rks swimming >n The Sh0wer!” That’s a 30-word password, technically known as a passphrase, and beats out #8xq3@2P. And which is easier to remember?
And don’t use something that a person who knows you might be able to guess: If you own five black cats, don’t make a passphrase of “I love black cats.”
Here’s a fun way to make a passphrase.
Make the change
Now that you have a passphrase that will take millions of years to crack, it’s time to make use of it. Sift through all of your accounts and change your passwords, using a different passphrase for each account, and not similar, either, for optimal uncrackability.
Once all of your new passwords (passphrases) are in place, you’ll have peace of mind, knowing that it would take millions of years for these passwords to be cracked.
Remember, there’s no better time than World Password Day to change your password!
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.