You use passwords for everything, from your email to your bank account app and Netflix account, which makes strong and secure combinations a necessity. However, because complex passwords are difficult to remember, you probably use weak ones, that a hacker can immediately compromise. And in the present context, when everyone spends more time browsing the Internet, there’s an even higher risk for a cybercriminal to target you and try to break your password.
Some red flags point out that your passwords are weak. When your passwords include some of the points this article highlights below, you should think about changing them immediately to prevent a data breach. Let’s explore the list together.
Your password is part of a list
Every year, cybersecurity companies release lists of the most compromised passwords to help people prevent a cyber-attack. The most hacked password in the USA is “password”. German people prefer “123456”, while Russians go with “qwerty”.
Here is a list of the most used passwords worldwide. If yours is one of them, change it immediately for another more complex one.
As you can guess, these are also the most hacked passwords because hackers don’t even need to lift a finger to break into your account. When they try to get your personal information, they first try the passwords found on this list, and then combine other attack methods.
You use personal information to create your passwords
It’s easier to remember a password that includes meaningful information. But, it’s best to stay away from using personal information when you set a new password for your account. This is especially true when you include details that most people know about you or available on social media.
Stay away from your partner, children, or pets’ names because a lot of people know them. Also, don’t use your birthday or your loved ones’ birthdays because the information can easily be tracked on social media. Change your password immediately if it includes personal information.
Social media had killed all your security when it decided to list your birthday on your profile. You can now set it hidden from the public, but there was a time when no one did it, and all your Facebook friends had a glimpse at it. When social media was more decentralised and there wasn’t such a high risk for cybercriminals to break into your account, you could use your birthday as a secure password, but those times are long gone.
You may think that not many people know your social security number and it’s safe to include it in your passwords. Unfortunately, isn’t as an effective solution as you may think. Don’t do it because a hacker can easily crack it. During the last years, we have witnessed a lot of data breaches, and it’s quite easy for a cybercriminal to steal your social security number.
You use a short password
Everyone talks about how vital it’s to create a long password, and the reasoning is simple, the longer and more complex the more difficult it’s for someone to break it. In fact, password length is more important than password complexity.
It takes approximately 29 milliseconds to break a 7 characters password, but two centuries to crack open a 12 characters one. Sadly, some websites have limits on how long you can set a password. Most prevent you from entering any combination longer than 10 characters. But anything longer than 8 characters is good.
You used a predictable formula to create your password
Chances are you’ve used a formula to create a password you think it’s secure and strong. But other people have definitely used the same strategy, and when you think about it, you no longer feel so awesome. The odds are that every time you need to generate a new password for another account, you use the same formula or reuse the old one. Most people create the password like in the next example word + numbers + punctuation sign. So your possible password is your dogs name, your birthday and ! (ted0908!)
Supposing your skype password gets leaked in a data breach; how long do you think it will take a hacker to find out the passwords for all your other accounts? So, it’s best to use an unpredictable pattern, a unique combination that has no ties with information people can easily find about you.
You use substitutions
You may think you’re safer to go with “pa$$word1” than with “password”. You’re wrong. Hackers are smart, this is why they do what they do. They don’t manually try to hack your passwords; they run programs and apps that use the lists of passwords cybersecurity companies promote as unsecure. Instead of using a substitution, you should use as password the first three words you’ve read in the book you’re currently reading.