Security 101 02-24-2016

Safety in a Good Password

Sara Drury

Max Nisen with Business Insider has pointed out that frankly, our society has become “Internet obsessed.” The Internet has become a necessary resource in the workplace and in education. People who use the Internet just for leisure can log up to 100 minutes a day, and that rapidly growing number excludes the minutes spent on email, watching videos, and gaming.

In this ever-expanding and very public Internet, passwords have become a crucial key to maintaining individual privacy, and on average, consumers use 25 or more sites and apps that rely on passwords to secure their minutes spent online.

That being said, people tend to look for simple and easy-to-remember passwords to make accessing their favorite Internet destinations quick and convenient. However, these risky habits can be costly because passwords are a frequent target in a data breach. Despite the warnings security experts put forth to improve these habits, the most common passwords on the Internet over the years have not seen much turnover. Nine of the ten most common passwords from 2014 appeared again on the list of 25 worst passwords for 2015. And consistent with preceding years, the two most common passwords were 1) 123456, and 2) password.

Many websites now push for stronger passwords by requiring a minimum number of characters, and some a mixture of character type. These requirements have led some users to try ever so slightly harder to create stronger passwords. For instance, some entries have transformed from 123456 to 1234567890. However, as CEO Morgan Sloan at SplashData points out, “longer passwords based on simple patterns leave users just as vulnerable to hackers.”

Secure Password Guidelines

When creating a new account on a website, take the time required to secure your information properly with a strong password by taking the following steps:

  • Make passwords hard to guess. Don't use personal connections like your name, birthday, pet's name, etc. that would be easy for another person to figure out. Furthermore, don't use those easy to guess words or numbers with trivial modifications like "a" to "@" and so on.
  • Make passwords as long and complex as possible. Use at least 14 characters and a mixture of letters, numbers, and special characters in hard-to-guess patterns. Another popular method is to combine several unrelated words or phrases.
  • Consider using a password manager. Password managers, like LastPass, can generate long, complex, and random passwords all the while remembering them for you. They key is to create a really strong password for the password manager itself (and use two-factor authentication), so a crook can't grab all your passwords at once.
  • Live by the rule of one password per one account. Criminals who get a hold of one of your passwords will try it out on multiple accounts. Do not reuse passwords. Each one of your accounts should have its own unique password.

For the most part, the most popular passwords circulating the Internet are still easily hackable and the patterns have yet to change. The complexities of a good password and the sheer number of complex passwords an Internet traveler must now remember might be daunting, but are necessary to ensure that every password used is unique, strong, and safe.


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