When it comes to password security, you probably already know the basics. Don’t write your passwords down, use a password manager, use two-step authentication when possible, and avoid easily guessed phrases or words. All this advice still works and is something you need to use. However, if this is all you are doing, you may find your information, data, and other files are still at risk.
Thanks to advancements in the technology used by hackers, it is high time you stepped up your IT security. The four tips here can help you get started.
Forego Complexity — Go for Length
According to experts, a longer password is typically better than one that is random. The goal is to create a password that is at least 12 to 15 characters long. In fact, a longer password that is made up of just lowercase letters is often safer than creating the right combination of alphanumeric gibberish. In fact, it only takes a password about two more characters to make up for the fact that it lacks other types of characters, such as symbols or uppercase letters.
This means, rather than spending time creating a password that looks like a cartoon curse word, move toward typing plain letters, which adds the additional benefit of being easier to remember.
Keep Things Obscure
This doesn’t mean that “111111111111” is an acceptable password. Length is always better, but the length results in diminishing returns regarding password security if you don’t mix things up. If you create a longer password that is based on a simple pattern, it is going to put you at just as much risk of having your identity stolen by hackers as the password above.
It is also recommended to avoid using any pop culture or sports related terms, regardless of how long it is. The more common the password is, the less security it is going to offer. You need to choose something no one else would consider using.
Don’t Put All Your Special Characters Together
Due to more and more people realizing the importance of password security, there are now many websites that feature password input fields that require a combination of lower and upper case letters, symbols, and numbers. That’s great, but you need to keep these separated.
Put the capital letters, symbols, and digits spread throughout the middle of the password you create, rather than at the beginning. It is natural to want to put capital letters at the beginning of a password and symbols and digits at the end, but this doesn’t offer very much security simply because it is expected.
Avoid Double Dipping
You have followed all the password recommendations, right down to the last %$^&. It is going to take someone years to crack your perfect password. In fact, it is so good, that you decided to use it on several of your accounts.
Stop right there!
It doesn’t matter if you deem a site to be important or unimportant, you definitely don’t want to use the same password for every site. This makes it too easy for a hacker to attack one site and then have your password for every other site you are on. Suppose, for instance, someone hacks your password from your favorite gaming site. This might not seem important, but if it’s the same password you use for your online banking, you could be in real trouble. When setting up an Atlantic Union Bank account, for example, you’ll want to ensure that your password is both strong and unique as it serves as the key to all of your financial information which is something you’ll certainly not want falling into the wrong hands.
When it comes to password security, you have to “think smart.” You can’t just choose your dog’s name or your maiden name anymore. Hackers have a pretty advanced technology to steal your information, and your first line of defense is a strong password. If you have failed to follow any of these tips in the past, now is the time to revamp your passwords and ensure your information and identity remain safe.
About the Author
DCG Technical Solutions
Los Angeles, CA
Brent Whitfield is CEO of DCG Technical Solutions, Inc. providing IT Support in the Los Angeles area since 1993. He started DCG as a results-oriented IT solutions company for small businesses in 1990, and built it into a company that was recognized among the Top 10 Fastest Growing MSPs in North America by MSP mentor. Brent has been featured in Fast Company, CNBC, Network Computing, Reuters, and Yahoo Business.