Passwords have become ubiquitous in the digital age. Everything from social media profiles to bank accounts and ecommerce sites requires passwords, and keeping those passwords secure from hackers is essential to digital and financial security.
Passwords and password hacking
Most online and digital profiles these days rely on a username and password combination to verify user identity. To ensure these profiles remain safe and confidential, well-crafted passwords are essential.
The rising prevalence of password hacking to enter confidential or financial online accounts, in particular, has made password security extremely important. Weak or common passwords make access to digital profiles easy for hackers, who use sophisticated programs to uncover passwords and hack accounts.
Create a strong password
In order to create a password that lessens the likelihood of being guessed or hacked, consider the following:
- Common words make poor password choices on their own. Try mixing up certain characters (@, #, $, &, etc.) in place of letters or numbers
- Use a minimum of eight characters in your password with a combination of lowercase letters, capital letters, numbers and special characters
- Unusual combinations work best. Try choosing a combination with a pneumonic device for remembrance. For instance, you can pick a favorite song lyric and use the beginning letters from each word
- For maximum protection, you can simply type random letters on a keyboard. Because this will be very difficult to remember, see below for some ideas on how you can keep your password secure
- Have different passwords for different devices, applications, online accounts and systems
- Don’t use personal information in your password that can be easily accessed or guessed (such as birthdays or pets’ names)
- Change your password regularly. When you do change the password, try not to repeat the same set of words, such as password1, password2
- Replace the weak or duplicate passwords with stronger, unique passwords
Keep the password secure
With so many passwords and login combinations, many users have difficulty remembering their passwords. We recommend the following to help you keep track:
- Do not write passwords down on slips of paper or in a notebook. These items are easily lost in a public place and can be stolen if left in plain sight.
- Save your password in a text file, which then can be stored on a password-protected, encrypted USB drive.
- Several password management programs have come to market in recent years, many of which offer high-quality password management features. For instance, not only can you keep track of all your password and login information, you can also update your passwords from the software, which can generate and save secure passwords on your behalf.
- A cookie is a method Internet browsers use to identify returning users to a site. If your browser remembers you, you can more easily gain access to your digital profiles each time you go to a frequently visited site. That way, you don’t have to re-enter your info every time. Likewise, most browsers allow you to save your login information within the browser so you do not have to frequently re-enter your password. While this information can be lost if you delete your cookies, it is typically reliable. You should not, however, rely solely on Internet browsers for password tracking.
Passwords can never be completely safe from discovery. However, by following the steps listed above, you can drastically reduce the likelihood of having your password uncovered.