Dec18
Is Your Password Doing Its Job?

Is Your Password Doing Its Job?

Posted by Kelly Kirkham

According to Norton, “Strong passwords are the key to your digital life.” Read more about how to make sure that the passwords you choose are up to the job.

Passwords are the gateway between the information we need and our ability to access it. Keeping our sensitive data out of the hands of those who could use it for nefarious deeds is all well and good, but when the same password keeps us out of our own accounts, there might be a problem. A good password is easily recalled yet hard for others to guess. So if you find yourself constantly resetting passwords or referring to notes for the clue, your password might not be doing its job.

Help! I forgot my password!

The easiest way to avoid forgetting one or a thousand passwords is to use a password manager. After all, there are dozens of passwords to keep track of on any given day. However, you still have to remember the password manager’s password. Forgetting the password to the passwords would be a monumental mistake.

Create a system for password management and store it in a safe place. Create a list of various passwords and never use the same password for multiple websites. You can store your master password in a vault application on your phone, a fireproof safe, or anywhere else that is secure. Never write your passwords down and keep them in a drawer or anywhere else that may be accessed by others.

Keeping data secure

There are many different ways that hackers can try to get through to your password-protected data. The first method includes password lists that can be bought from other hackers. The lists contain popular passwords that can be quickly run implemented to hopefully find a match.

The second way is through brute force. Hackers will use as many different combinations as possible. Think of a simple combination lock with three numeral options. There are 999 combination options for the lock. If you spend enough time trying, you will eventually find the magic number. Brute-force password attacks, sometimes called exhaustive key searches, work the same way, except there are many more character values available.

Best practice for passwords is that longer is better. The more the characters used in your password, the harder it is for hackers to crack. For example, if you have an 8-character password with lower case letters only, there are 26 options for each of the 8 characters, meaning that there are 208,827,064,576 total combinations available. However, if you use upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters, then there are 81 options for each of the 8 characters. Hackers will then have 645,753,531,245,761 options to search through to gain access to your sensitive data.

For extremely sensitive information like health or banking information, it is suggested to use a randomly generated password along with two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA usually takes place on your phone or a keychain and sends randomly generated codes every 20 seconds or so. This method is known as multi-factor authentication and usually includes “something you know” and “something you have”. For extreme levels of security, you can also add the “something you are” factor in the form of biometrics. If your smartphone includes a fingerprint option, you are taking advantage of this additional layer of security.  

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