Do you want to keep your data and accounts safe from cyberattacks? Then you need to use strong passwords.
Creating a strong password is the number one way to ensure data protection and keep your accounts safe from cyberattacks. Weak passwords put you at risk for fraud, hacking, and any number of other cyber attacks.
It can take as little as a couple of hours for a hacker to guess a weak password. When they do, hackers can expose you to extortion, identity theft, and more.
These are situations you don’t ever want to experience. Fortunately, you can prevent them by creating strong passwords.
The question you now have is “how do I create and remember my many strong passwords?” Here’s everything you need to know about creating a strong password.
Strong Passwords Are a Necessity
We’re relying heavily on our digital devices to go about our day-to-day business. This includes everything from working remotely, to managing bank accounts, to grocery shopping online.
During these activities, we’re often logging into a personal account. Our accounts, both personal and work-related, contain a lot of sensitive information. Therefore, they need great password protection.
Think of your online and digital accounts as your home or car. When you leave, you lock it to keep unwanted intruders out.
Your password works like a lock. If it’s weak, it’s easy to break into. But if your password is strong, cybercriminals will have a tough—if not impossible—time hacking it.
Weak passwords make you and your business more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. When cybercriminals hack and access your personal and work-related information, several things can happen. They can:
- Steal your identity
- Share your information with the public
- Steal your credit/debit information
- Encrypt your data
- Sell your information online
- Hack others in your (work) network
These attacks take time to diagnose and fix if your IT team can even fix them. They’ll also cost you or your business more money than you care to spend. Protect your time, money, and data by creating strong passwords.
What Exactly Is a Strong Password?
You’ve been told again and again to create a strong password, but what qualifies as strong? Password strength refers to how effective a password is against brute-force attacks and guessing.
Strong passwords include three things: they’re long, unpredictable, and complex. The greater each of these is, the stronger the password will be.
A few common words and character combinations found in passwords include variations of 123456, “password,” and 1111111. Names, birthdates, pets, and addresses are common weak passwords that are easy to hack.
Tips for Creating Strong Passwords
Creating a strong password to improve data protection is easier than it sounds. Follow these steps to ensure your passwords are strong.
1. Long Passwords
Aim for a minimum of 8 characters in your password. If possible, try to have over 10 or 12 characters as this will boost the password’s strength.
2. Use a Variety of Characters
Character variety refers to the use of numbers, symbols, and both uppercase and lowercase letters. Mixing these characters will improve how unpredictable the password is.
3. Hard to Guess
Create a phrase, acronym, or random mix of words and numbers that are hard to guess. Avoid using anything personal to you, such as your parents’ names or your hometown.
4. Use Uncommon Words
Passphrases are more secure than passwords but only if they’re a mix of uncommon words. If you do use common words, mix them up in an unpredictable way.
5. Avoid Obvious Character Substitutes
Using the number 1 in place of an “L” or an “I” is one example of obvious character substitution. Try to avoid these as hackers are aware of this and have software that can break it.
6. Don’t Reuse Your Passwords
It’s tempting to reuse the same password for multiple accounts. Whatever you do, do not reuse the same password on different accounts. Using different strong passwords for different accounts will improve your data protection.
7. Change Your Password
The good news is, many IT specialists believe you don’t need to regularly change your password every 30 to 90 days if it’s strong and unique. The only time you should change it is if you think there’s a data breach or someone hacked your account.
If you’re paranoid and want to increase security, it doesn’t hurt to change it every 30 days to 3 months. If you choose this route, make sure every password you choose is strong, long, and unique. Otherwise, hackers will be able to easily break into your accounts.
8. Add More Security
Improve general data protection by adding two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication or two-step verification adds another layer of security by asking for a second piece of information. This is usually a one-time code sent only to you.
Even if a hacker has your password, they’ll need a second verification code to access your account. Unless they have your phone or access to your email, they won’t be able to break into your account.
Managing Your Passwords
Now that you have many different, unique, and strong passwords. How do you remember them all?
Using password management will manage and track your password use. Digital password management tools allow you to save and access your passwords. Besides helping you with your passwords, they also add a level of security so hackers can’t access them.
Browser-based management tools come prebuilt in your browser applications. They’re convenient but not the most secure. Portable and desktop-based password management tools save your passwords locally on a device such as your phone or computer, respectively.
Cloud-based password tools allow a user to securely store and access their passwords. They can access it across multiple devices from anywhere. Cutting-edge password management tools will let you store biometric data, fingerprint-use, and photo-logins.
Strong Passwords Improve Data Protection
As we continue to rely more on our digital devices, data protection is more important than ever. Stronger passwords, two-factor authentication, and quality password management will ensure your data is safe and secure. If you haven’t already, check your passwords and change them if needed.
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