I am a big advocate of password security and the best way to protect your information online is to begin with better password management. This starts with using strong, unique passwords for every account you have, from banking to shopping to social media. With data breaches happening all the time, it is very likely you will experience a hack at some point in your life, if you have not already.
Examples of Insecure Password Use
Using the Same Password Everywhere
In the digital age, so much of our personal information is out there for criminals to find, either by hacking the systems which store the data or by social engineering. If you’re like the majority of Internet users, you probably have a password strategy that includes using the same, or very similar, passwords for every online account. Typically it is a loved one’s name or birth date, pet’s name or, at worst, something along the lines of password123. These passwords are usually stored in a notebook or on Post-Its around your desk. Am I right?
The average person in the United States has 130 online accounts so using the same password is easy and convenient. The problem with this method is that, if you use the same password for online banking that you use for Facebook, you have set yourself up for further damage, if someone is able to get control of your Facebook account.
Using a Simple Password
Based on my experience people use simple passwords for three reasons:
- Simple passwords are easier to remember.
- They have the mindset that “no hacker would ever target me.”
- They simply don’t understand the risks involved.
Whether it’s laziness or a general lack of understanding of basic security principles, using simple or common passwords for any online account is just asking for trouble.
How Easy is it to Hack Your Password?
While a generic password may seem secure to you because a hacker couldn’t possibly know your kids’ names, a hacker using a password cracker can break most common passwords in less than 10 minutes. Most passwords consisting of names can be cracked in less than one second! On the other hand, a random password such as ‘Fp3y[WyV’?2lC*5c#[‘ would take years to crack with common password cracking software. In addition, because so much of our lives are posted on social media, that password you think is random might be easier for a hacker to guess.
There are simple tweaks you can make to passwords that can greatly lengthen the time it takes to crack. For instance, substituting some letters and numbers with special characters such as exclamation points or pound signs. And, as mentioned above, makes sure all passwords are unique to one account.
Simplify Your Password Management with Helpful Tools
There are many password managers on the market and most do a decent job of handling dozens (or in my case hundreds) of passwords for you. Here at Ten9 IT Services, we use Dashlane for our password management.
Dashlane – a Simple, Secure Password Manager
Dashlane does a great job of securing stored passwords, notes and payment information so you can easily fill in online forms with the click of a button. In addition, the mobile app keeps all your information synced for use on your phone as well as your tablet.
With a password generating tool built-in to the browser extension, creating a unique and random password for each online account is a piece of cake and every time you sign up for a new online account Dashlane is right there to prompt you to save the information.
The desktop and mobile apps give you a nice overview of your overall security with a dashboard full of scores and password strength indicators. It is easy to search for a password in case you need it for copy/paste elsewhere.
Using a password management tool such as Dashlane may be intimidating at first, but as soon as you get a feel for how the app functions you’ll wonder how you ever dealt with life before it – no more looking through your post-its or old address book for those hand-written passwords that may or may not be correct.
If you have any questions about Dashlane, another password management tool, or online security in general, feel free to email us.