In an age where security and privacy are always a major concern especially online, passwords serve as the only few blockades that stop hackers from infiltrating your social accounts or even your device.
Should we be worried about criminals breaking into our digital life? Maybe we should, as the worst passwords from 2019 seems to make it easier for so much information to be left vulnerable.
As cybercriminals and hackers up their game, maybe it’s time that we up ours too.
These are just the many passwords that make the list and others include “qwerty”, “Iloveyou” and “admin”. All of these don’t make great passwords as they are easily hackable and offer little to no protection for your data.
The potential for serious security breach would increase if you too use the same weak password for more than one account as if one is compromised, so are all the others. Brett Johnson, a former identity thief who is now a digital security consultant, says about 80 percent of people with online passwords use the same one for multiple websites.
“Criminals know that and take advantage of it,” Johnson told NBC News BETTER. “All they need to do is get the password for one website and they have access to every single one you use … your bank account, credit card, maybe tax return, everything across the board.”
Once compromised and identity stolen, it may take up to weeks or even months to repair the damage that is done and recover what is rightfully yours.
So how you do you ensure a strong password?
1) Strong passwords
The rules for a strong password varies as experts are divided between suggestions of 12 to 20 characters or a series of random words. However, they all agree that common phrases, songs or even your favourite sports team or dog’s name won’t make it secure too.
Utilize password manager apps such as Dashlane, LastPass or KeePass and let it create them for you. You can even use NordPass to check if you’ve chosen to use a good password. For example, “987654321” has been exposed 594,495 times and My1Login estimated that it could be cracked in 0.01 seconds. Take that into thought.
2) The more important the account, the more unique the password
Many of us have more online accounts than to what we can managed. While the practice is to use secure and unique passwords for all of them, most simply won’t do that.
Financial accounts, social media and work email, they are our most sensitive accounts and are the most critical to protect. Let your imagination go wild and allow them to spark ideas into your next password.
3) Password manager
With the way our mind is structured, we surely can’t remember all those long strings of random letters, numbers or characters can’t we?
If you’re not all that into the tech world, writing them down on a piece of paper seems like the only option. However, if you are a tech enthusiast, a password manager remembers all of them for you; although, you do have to remember that one password that lies before all the passwords.
Apple and Google have password managers built into their operating systems, maybe it’s time we check them out.
4) Two, three, four-factor authentication
Certain websites offer two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA), these offers that much-needed extra level of security. Once enabled, it takes more than a password to access that account such as needing fingerprint or facial recognition before hand.
Although not fool proof, Microsoft statistics show that MFA correlates with 99 percent reduction in the rate of compromise; As Alexander Weiner, director of identity security at Microsoft puts it, “The weakest password plus MFA is stronger than the strongest password”.
You are going to be attack regardless
Former identity thief Johnson warns that it’s not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” instead, especially if you’re using a password that is anything but strong. There will always be a next victim and there is no reason to why it won’t be you next.