How to create a strong password
Whether it’s for your computer, device, email account, social media page, or financial account, a strong, safe, and secure password can significantly enhance your cybersecurity. By simply being harder to guess, it can delay or prevent a threat actor from gaining access to your confidential data. A threat actor could be someone on the Internet, a pickpocket, or a nosy person at your office or household.
Why create a strong password?
Setting good passwords is particularly important nowadays because hackers employ complex tools to launch sophisticated attacks like a dictionary attack. In a nutshell, a dictionary attack is a way to penetrate password-protected digital systems by utilizing large sets of words in a dictionary. A dictionary attack is a type of brute force attack, where hackers try to breach encryption like passwords by trial and error.
Characteristics of a good password:
- At least 12 characters long.
- Features uppercase letters and lowercase letters.
- Features a healthy mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Characteristics of a bad password:
- Carries obvious patterns like “12345”, “qwerty”, or “QQQQQ”.
- Features common words from any language like “tomate” or “rabbit” or even “rabb1t”.
- Has bits of personal information like names and dates.
While a more complex password is more secure, it can be more challenging to remember. You can try several tricks, like using working with specific letters of a random sentence as a password. For example, a password for “I love dancing with squirrels and gophers in the pale moonlight hours” could be “1ldw$&gitpMh”. Alternatively, you could use a reputable password manager to protect and remember your login credentials. Of course, you’ll still need to keep track of your master password.
Creating, remembering, and managing excellent passwords for your accounts is crucial. But even the best password is worthless if it’s easily exposed. Here are some tips that can help you enhance your password security:
- Please be as vigilant about your password security questions as you are about your password. A threat actor can reset the most sophisticated password if they can easily guess the answer to your security question.
- Even if your passwords carry no personal information, avoid oversharing confidential data publicly on platforms like message boards or social media pages. A hacker may leverage some of your personal information to bypass your login credentials or even trick your cellular provider into resetting your SIM card in a SIMjacking or SIM-swap scam.
- Never write your password down on a piece of paper. A threat actor is likely to check around your computer for your password while you’re away.
- Avoid reusing the same password for multiple accounts or someone with access to one password will have access to all your accounts. Again, a password manager can help you manage unique passwords.
- Take advantage of two-factor authentication to back up your password with another layer of security. Even if someone has your password, they may have to validate their identity in another way to gain access to your account, unless they have your device and your password.
- Use a free anti-malware download to scan your computer for snoopy malware. Keyloggers, stalkerware, Trojans, and spyware can document your password without your knowledge. You should also examine your computer for unusual devices if you suspect someone is utilizing a hardware keylogger to spy on you.
How secure is your password?
Your password is pretty secure if you follow the precautions listed above. Please avoid using most websites that claim to test your password security by asking for your password. Only trust a reputable page to check your password strength. For example, you can try creating a new account on Google and test your password there.