Passwords: How To Strengthen Them

Are your passwords secure? Quick Check: How Secure Are Your Passwords?

Just for a second, think of all the websites you use that require a username and password to log-in.

Several probably leapt to mind right away, huh? And that’s just off the top of your head.

I have a second request. Now, think about your variety in passwords.

Are the capital letters in your password at the beginning? If you added a number, was it 1 or did you get really fancy and use 123? And finally, when you are required to add a special character, how often is that character an exclamation point?

If you’re asking “how did you know?!” – well, we’re all human, and many of us strengthen our passwords the same way. It is important that you create strong, unique passwords and don’t necessarily rely on the meter on the webpage you’re using. Although helpful (and they definitely lead you to a better password than “password1”), it’s not a flawless system.

Another issue that many people have is that they constantly use the same passwords. There are a couple of big problems with this. First, if someone gets into one account, they can get into all the accounts that share that password. Secondly, if your email password is something you use frequently and a second account requires confirmation, you again make it very easy on a hacker. They can get in, change your password, and approve the change before you even know.

What Can You Do To Make Them Stronger?

To make your accounts safer:

  • Use different passwords for every account you have
  • Don’t just add a 1,2,3, etc. to the end of the same password
  • Vary the characters you use
  • Place capitals and characters in the middle of words
  • If two-factor authentication is an option, take advantage of it

Another strategy is to use multiple words (that are not a common phrase) together to make a longer password. This can be tricky to work with as there are password attacks that pull words from the dictionary to try, however you can combine the above tips with a phrase to make a complex password. Let’s say you like Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. An example of a complex password using a phrase could be: 21NF1N1TY&b3y0nd!

Finally, consider using a password utility to generate and save random character passwords. These are long and read like complete gibberish (think “F904&d@3!B$vv%”), but they’re much harder to crack due to the complexity. Please remember that the password securing your password repository needs to be very secure. This method requires an extra step when you have to log into the password utility to fetch a password, but you’ll only have one hard password to remember. All of your various accounts will also be much safer for it.

Believe me, I understand that not having one password is cumbersome. Between work and home, I have dozens and dozens of passwords that I use on a daily basis. However, the consequences of someone getting into one of my accounts – such as my email, bank account, or remote access tool – are much heftier than the inconvenience.

Can you afford someone gaining unfettered access to your bank account? Will you notice immediately if someone’s in your email account and giving themselves access to your other accounts? It’s worth the extra effort.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)