The other day I was scrolling through Facebook and saw the dreaded post from a friend that read, “I’ve been hacked!”. Whether it’s Facebook or email or a banking app, compromised credentials are a huge problem.
The technology behind password hacking keeps growing stronger, making passwords easier to crack. One clever hacker built a cracking machine that could crack Windows passwords in just 6 hours. Many times the threat isn’t just from people attacking your account or computer, but the places where our information is stored. Every year, hundreds of companies have data breaches that result in compromised email addresses and passwords.
What are we to do against all the malicious actors out there who are just itching to steal all your info? Below are some tips and best practices to protect your information.
Keep Your Information Private
Sharing passwords is becoming increasingly common. People give out their Netflix or Hulu password to a friend. They give it to their friend who is fixing their computer. But such practices are a big no-no. It creates a bad habit of being lax with personal information. It’s your life, your money, your reputation. It’s best to guard against the unknown by keeping who knows your passwords to an absolute minimum.
Use a Password Manager
Password managers seemed like a mysterious thing to me for many years. For the longest, I was very resistant to using one. One day I finally broke down and started looking into using a password manager for everyday life, and what a life changer! Now I have better passwords, a safe and secure place where everything is stored, and autofill so I don’t have to remember them all.
One of the most effective ways to increase your password security is simply by making them longer. The more random the better, but stringing words together into a phrase can exponentially increase the amount of time it takes to hack a password. In an extreme example “thequickbrownfoxjumpedoverthelazydog” would take over 6 HUNDRED NONILLION YEARS to crack.
Don’t Reuse Passwords
Using the same password for your email, online banking, Netflix, and Twitter makes you extremely vulnerable to attack. By reusing the same password it’s less guessing by the bad guys. If they crack one, they crack them all. This is a common technique by hackers who compromise accounts and then sell email/password combinations on the Dark Web. Have a strong unique password for everything you do online.
Switch Things Up
If you think your password might be compromised or maybe it’s just been a while since you changed it, change your password. Use a password generator or password manager to make a new password and never reuse old passwords or new iterations of an old one.
Tip: Don’t increment a password. ex: “YeOldePassword1” to “YeOldePassword2”
Changing passwords often will ensure that your information remains secure even if there is a data breach somewhere.
Following these simple password safeguards will help keep your accounts, and most importantly your information, out of the hands of hackers and thieves. Be sure to follow us for more Tech Basics.