Having a secure password for your email and website logins is the single most important thing you can do to avoid being the victim of hacking, fraud and other related criminal activities.
Before we explain how to create and manage secure passwords, let’s look at how passwords are stolen and the potential consequences.
Acquisition and Consequences
The main way passwords are stolen is by using a “brute-force” attack. As the name suggests, the thief will use a piece of software which will keep banging against your user account until is guesses your password. Brute-force attacks are especially successful if you use dictionary words and names, as the software will check your password against every word in the dictionary and any common name within minutes. Conversely, if a secure password in used, it could take hundreds of years, making it not worth the hackers’ time and in practical terms un-crackable. The thing to remember is that anything can be hacked, it just depends whether it’s worth the time and effort.
It is common these days to hear news reports that another company has been hacked and that user accounts have been compromised. If you have concerns about a website, you can check if it has been hacked here: http://www.isithacked.com/
If someone you know has a personal grudge against you and they know you well, they might be able to guess your email password and reset it, locking you out of your email.
What makes a good password?
Although there is nothing you can do about data breaches, it is still very important that you create a password that can resist brute-force attacks. This depends on you creating a complex password.
In an ideal world, a password of at least 16 characters that contains a mix of numbers, upper and lower case letters and symbols will protect against brute-force attacks. Also ensure that there is no repetition, names or dictionary words.
If you need to create a secure password, you can use a password generator such as http://www.strongpasswordgenerator.org/ . You can also check how secure your current password is here: https://howsecureismypassword.net/
In reality, it is hard to remember a 16 digit random password, which is why most people who use really secure passwords use a password manager.
Using the same password for more than one account is a security risk as if one account gets hacked, the others can be easily accessed. Using a password manager can solve this problem. Password managers will store your passwords, help you create strong secure passwords and will also automatically fill in forms and log into websites without you lifting a finger. We recommend Dashlane. It ends password frustration and the premium version synchronises your passwords across all of your devices. This means that you only have to login once on any device and then you can automatically login on all your other devices. It will also help you change your insecure passwords and generate new passwords. As an added bonus it also saves a record of your online purchases.
So if passwords are frustrating you try Dashlane today, it’s free.