Whenever teachers reach that part of the academic semester when it becomes time to warn students about the necessity to create a strong password to protect their e-mail and computer accounts, they always stress how important it is not to use passwords that someone could easily figure out, like your boyfriend or girlfriend’s name, or your birth date. Instead, create non-sensical passwords, or don’t use any word that exists in the dictionary. Always combine upper case and lower case characters, special characters, and numbers. One good example is “Truck$Tire_77”. But even those who work with computers on a daily basis in offices or large corporations are guilty of using and sharing weak passwords out of sheer convenience.
An Internet site who manages passwords recently posted an article pertaining to the lack of secure passwords being utilized which may be a factor in data breaches — past, present, and future. One reason for the lack of security is the amount of passwords a user is required to remember to access the many databases, applications, multiple networks, etc., used on a daily basis. Sharing passwords among users in a workplace is becoming a common theme to continue the flow of operations. Users have prioritized convenience over security when establishing passwords.
The article provided a list of millions of stolen passwords posted on-line by hackers and ranked the top 25 common passwords, which are:
Create strong passwords:
According to Microsoft, strong passwords are important protections to help you have safer online transactions.
Keys to password strength: length and complexity:
- An ideal password is long and has letters, punctuation, symbols, and numbers.
- Whenever possible, use eight characters or more.
- Don’t use the same password for everything. Cybercriminals steal passwords on websites with very little security, and then they try to use that same password and user name in more secure environments, such as banking websites.
- Change your passwords often. Set an automatic reminder for yourself to change your passwords on your email, banking, and credit card websites about every three months.
- The greater the variety of characters in your password, the better. However, password hacking software automatically checks for common letter-to-symbol conversions, such as changing “and” to “&” or “to” to “2.”
- Use the entire keyboard, not just the letters and characters you use or see most often.
Test your password with a password checker:
A password checker evaluates your password’s strength automatically. Try our secure password checker.
Protect your passwords from prying eyes:
The easiest way to “remember” passwords is to write them down. It is okay to write passwords down, but keep the written passwords in a secure place.
Common password pitfalls to avoid:
Cyber criminals use sophisticated tools that can rapidly decipher passwords. Avoid creating passwords that use:
- Dictionary words in any language.
- Words spelled backwards, common misspellings, and abbreviations.
- Sequences or repeated characters. Examples: 12345678, 222222, abcdefg, or adjacent letters on your keyboard (qwerty).
- Personal information. Your name, birthday, driver’s license, passport number, or similar information.
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(sources: IC3, Microsoft)