A report was commissioned in 2015 by an Internet security consultancy firm, TeleSign. It stated approximately 73% of online accounts use the same passwords. 54% of the sample group used less than five passwords for all of their accounts. This is troubling, in that it weakens the overall security of your passwords and online logins. Equally concerning is the fact that 10% + of users continue to choose one of the 25 worst passwords of the year (2016) to secure their personal files and logins, per SplashData stats. The best password manager tools make it easy to store complex passwords, thereby eliminating the need for creating easy to remember passwords. Top-tier programs like LastPass and 1Password are popular choices.
In case you were wondering what the worst online passwords were for 2016: QWERTY, football, 12345678, 12345, password and 123456 ranked in the top 10.
Creating Your Online Passwords – the Winning Guide
A strong password is one that is at least 10-15 characters long, and contains a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, special characters and numbers. This alphanumeric mix of content should have no relation to previous passwords whatsoever. It is difficult to conjure up a completely random, strong and effective password. Fortunately, there are a series of tools that can be used to assist you in this regard, like password generators.
For example, if you constantly post pictures of your pet dog named Bubbles, don’t use Bubbles as your password. And, if you’re going to be using the names of pets, mix it up with alphanumeric symbols and characters such as B#bb|€$. Equally important are the password reminders that come into play in case you forget your password. Never use readily available information that anyone could uncover. For example, your high school mascot, the town you grew up in, or your mother’s maiden name, are way too easy for people to guess.
Each App and Website Should Have a Unique Password Assigned
Different accounts should use different passwords. If you use one password for all accounts, you run the risk of being hacked across the board. Users who switch things up are less likely to encounter security breaches across multiple social media accounts, online banking accounts and the like. It is difficult to remember multiple passwords, and that’s where the best password manager software comes into the picture. There are several other ways to store saved passwords including an encrypted file on your hard drive, external hard drive, or simply writing it down on a piece of paper.
Many IT security consultants caution against writing username/password combinations on a piece of paper. However, if the data is safely stored, it does not present a security threat. Another high-risk activity is linking new accounts to existing accounts. Many websites today ask you to either create a new account, or simply login with your Twitter, Facebook, or Gmail account. The convenience of a linked account is also its bête noire; they are high-risk hackable accounts. All sorts of private security data changes hands when you permit accounts to be linked. Like the weakest link in a chain, any security loopholes in the linked accounts can be exploited to gain access to your personal information.
Extra Tips for Keeping Passwords Secure
It’s not only the type of password protection that you use, it’s where you enter your password that matters. Hackers are ubiquitous; they are watching you on public Wi-Fi networks, at coffee shops and the public library. They are inconspicuous, yet their actions cost billions of dollars every year, and many lives have been ruined by their nefarious activities. Avoid logging into personal bank accounts, smartphones or PCs in public areas. Malware and viruses are some of the many concerns you face in a public setting.
Additionally, IT management of public Wi-Fi networks is dubious at best. The intentions of those providing free Wi-Fi are unknown, and this in itself is a security hazard. When anyone has access to the network you’re on, anyone can hack you. Never enter your banking login details over a free Wi-Fi network, since this puts your security at risk. On the topic of online banking passwords, ensure that multi-factor authentication measures are in place. This means that a standard password will be required, in addition to a mobile phone password that has been sent by your bank.