In our last post we shared some of the ways cybercriminals can hack into your private passwords. This article will give you some tips to help you make sure your passwords do not fall victim to these strategies.

Length

A password should be 12-15 characters long. This is the most important factor in password safety. Even if you ignore all these other tips, this one is essential!  Research has found that 45% of Americans use passwords that are 8 characters long or less. One way to help with this requirement is to use a sentence. You will create a long password that will also be easy to remember. You do not want to use common phrases from popular culture that many people know. Instead, use a sentence that is more unique and personal to you.

Different Passwords

Use a different password for different accounts! This cannot be emphasized enough! Next to the length of the passwords, this is the number one tip to follow. If you use the same password for all your accounts and a hacker cracks it, then he or she has access to all your accounts. Using the same passwords repeatedly is what allows criminals to use credential stuffing. You would not use the same key to unlock your home, your car, your office, and your gym locker. Don’t use the same password for all your accounts.

Characters

A password should have both uppercase and lowercase letters. You should also include numbers and symbols. Try not to place numbers and symbols all at the front or the back end of the password. Mix them in. There are many symbols and numbers look like letters. Replace those letters with the symbol.  For example, instead of chocolateismyfavoritetreat, try Ch0c0l@te!$MyF@v0r!teTre@t!. Hackers use a computer to try every word in the dictionary as a password. These combinations of words and symbols will not show up in any dictionary.

Personal Information

Avoid using personal information as part of your password. Things like names of family members or pets, birthdates, addresses, or phone numbers are all things that are relatively easy for someone to find out about you. This information is often available publicly on accounts you have on social media.

Change Passwords

You should change your passwords regularly. Although this can be tedious and even annoying, this is the best way to protect your security. Of course, you cannot change it every week, but you should change your password every quarter at minimum.

Sharing Passwords

There is one person you can share your passwords with…NO ONE! This is especially true with anyone you are in a new relationship with – romantic, friendly, or workplace. Especially in romantic relationships, we want to share everything with our partner, and we want them to share everything with us. This is not something you should take lightly. If you would not hand over your wallet, your credit cards, your driver’s license, your passport, your birth certificate, or your social security cards to someone, then do not hand over your passwords. Keep your passwords private and respect one another’s privacy.

Audit

Especially if you are a business owner or manager of an organization, you may want to do a password audit. Basically, a password audit is when you use the same tools a cybercriminal would use to see if your employees’ or members’ passwords are guessable. Can they be easily compromised? There is software and web-based programs that can act a simulated “attack” on your data. You are in control, but you will find out if your passwords are secure.

Are your company’s passwords secure? Catapult Tech Solutions can help you find out! Look for more password tips in our next post!

 

Are you on Facebook? We are, too. Let’s be friends!