With most of our most vulnerable information online, cybersecurity breaches are becoming more common with devastating consequences. By 2025 it is estimated that cybercrime will cost as much as $10.5 trillion globally.
While cybercrime takes many forms, weak passwords are one of the most common ways that hackers gain access to our information. The first line of defense against hackers is reviewing the strength of your passwords. To keep your data safe, you’re going to need to learn how to create a strong password.
Avoiding Weak Passwords
Weak passwords make a hacker’s job a breeze. But what counts as a weak password?
A survey conducted by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre showed that over 23.2 million accounts chose the classic 123456 as their password, closely followed by, you guessed it, 123456789. While these are easy to remember, they also make accessing your information online an easy job for hackers.
Other weak passwords include obvious guesses like your first or last name, your favorite sports team, or simply the word “password”.
Cybersecurity 101: How to Create a Strong Password
Now that you know the popular password choices to avoid, let’s take a look at what makes a password strong. These tips should help with creating iron-clad passwords for your accounts.
Don’t Go for the Obvious
While we’ve already pointed out some of the most common password faux pas, there are a few more obvious ones that need attention. Using letter combinations that are close together on the keyboard, like the ever-popular qwerty, is a no-go.
You should also avoid using any names that might be obvious to guess or can be found out through online research. Yes, this does rule out your partner’s name, kid’s names, or pet’s names.
A hard and fast rule for passwords is to go with something that only you know.
The Longer the Better
When it comes to passwords, length matters. The shorter the password, the easier it is to hack. The general rule is that a password should never be shorter than 8 characters long. While longer passwords are trickier to remember, they’re much more difficult to crack.
One Number, Symbol Combo Coming Right up!
Strong passwords will have a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. To make this easier to remember try spelling out words and replacing letters with similar-looking symbols. For example, if your password contains the letter ‘S’ replace it with a $. Or replace an ‘O’ with a ‘0’. You get the idea.
Upper and Lowercase Wins the Race
While your password should include both letters and numbers, make it air-tight with some upper and lowercase lettering variation. This can be tricky to remember, so make it a bit easier by only capitalizing the first and last letter of your password.
Don’t Go by the Book
Try your best to avoid using common words found in the dictionary. There are tons of free tools available to hackers online that automatically decrypt passwords by trawling through the dictionary. If you do use a single word, change it up with symbols and a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters.
Try Out a Phrase
So if you can’t go for one word where does that leave you? You could choose a memorable phrase. Phrases make much stronger passwords and are often easier to remember than single words. These could include anything from famous sayings to popular song lyrics.
However, you should never use a popular phrase or lyric without replacing some letters with symbols or using random capitalization. This is because popular phrases are often included in those hacker dictionaries we spoke about earlier.
If you absolutely have to write your passwords down, don’t store them anywhere on your computer. Documents on your computer with a list of passwords are easier to find than you think. Keep a dedicated handwritten document in a safe space where no one will be able to find it.
It’s also a good idea to write down a list of hints for your passwords instead of the passwords themselves. Again, your hints should be information that only you know the answers to. It’s a good idea to make your password hints less obvious by mixing up the letters or phrasing them cryptically to be extra safe.
Never, Ever Use the Same Password Twice
Sure, it’s easier to remember but using the same password twice puts your information at risk. Even if you’ve taken all of the steps above to keep your data safe if one account is compromised then all of your accounts are.
It might seem like a nuisance, but having different passwords for each account means that if one is hacked, you’ll save yourself the time and effort of having to reset all of your passwords.
To make it slightly easier, try to choose your passwords according to a theme. This could be anything from characters in your favorite book, to the directors of your favorite movies. No matter what theme you go for, Just remember to follow the number, symbol, and capitalization rules!
Passwordless Authentication: The Future of Cyber Security
Creating a strong password is the first step to keeping the hackers at bay. These tips should help when you’re figuring out how to create a strong password. However, remembering multiple combinations of symbols and letters can end up being a bit of a nightmare. Save yourself the headache and get a trusted password manager instead.
Password managers are an easy way to keep your data extra safe, and not have to constantly click “forgot password?” every time you’re logging in. Get in touch and find out more about how PasswordLess authentication keeps your data secure with just one password.