Sep3

Can Your Password Take The Strain?

Posted by Madeleine Bruce

There are myriad benefits to making your password as secure as possible.

Although the internet is a great place, it can also be unsafe. Hacker scandals are becoming more prolific and more intense; last year saw e-commerce giant eBay reach out to all of its customers following the widespread theft of hundreds of thousands of consumer passwords. And eBay customers aren’t alone in their anguish: just under half of American adults had their sensitive information hacked in 2014 according a study from CNN Money.

So why is it that we’re still so vulnerable to these malicious forces? Many would say we’re lazy, but research has shown that the human brain is simply unable to memorize the sheer volume of different passwords which security experts would suggest we have. Come to think of it, most Americans have such a broad range of passwords and PIN codes to remember that we can’t possibly hope to create, store and recall them all.

How many of you honestly have a separate password entirely for your Facebook, online banking, PayPal and Twitter accounts, to name but a few? Ideally we should all be using multiple contrasting and unrelating passphrases to protect our data, and this is becoming increasingly important in the digital age.

As a refresher for those who don’t know just what constitutes a ‘strong’ password, here are a few guidelines:

  • Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t be scared to go beyond the alphanumeric keys!
  • The longer the better: a strong password is at least 8 characters long!
  • Be unfamiliar. Words or phrases which are found in the dictionary are easier to guess and easier to crack than a random sequence of characters.
  • Avoid names. Your beloved childhood hamster’s name should not be used in your password. Neither should your street name, family name or pet’s name. They’re all guessable.
  • Change things up by changing your password at least every three months. This could throw of a hacker who has spent their valuable time and effort trying to crack your password through brute force, sending them back to the beginning.

So why is a strong password so important anyway?

We should all know by now that when our data falls into the wrong hands things can go disastrously wrong. By sharing our data with the internet we are at the mercy of phishers, password crackers, hackers and other such internet bad guys who are potentially out to put this information to criminal use.
Although there are many ways in which a hacker can gain access to your personal data on the web, a password is your first line of defense against them. Should you hope to protect your sensitive information or your computer hardware, you must be sure that your password is not the ‘weak link’ that will let them in.

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