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Cyber Security: The Power of Passwords

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It often starts with a roll of the eyes. “Didn’t I just change my password a week ago?” we wonder. It may feel as if we get reminders to change our online banking or social media account passwords every other day, but it’s not as often as you think.

It’s Complicated

Most people tend to use passwords containing information that’s significant to them. Birth dates, anniversaries, children’s names, and childhood pet names are among the most commonly used. This makes it pretty easy for hackers to guess your password, especially if they’ve already stolen your personal details.

Cyber Security experts, like HackerUSA, recommend that you choose a password that’s more complicated and harder to guess.

Let’s take a look at one fictional example:

  • Name: Susan Abrams
  • Date of Birth: December 5, 1973
  • Children’s Names: Amy, Robert, and Jordan

Weak Passwords

Strong Passwords

susan1273

SuAbiowa&*

robert1234

sAiowa99)

amysmom

sue989LP$

In the examples above, Cyber criminals could easily guess Susan’s weak passwords. The first one, susan1273, includes her month and year of birth. If hackers view her Facebook page or posts, they would see pictures of her children, and be able to guess the other 2 passwords. However, passwords containing alphanumeric combinations with at least 1 symbol are more difficult to guess and therefore, more secure.

Too Many Passwords to Remember?

A recent Intel study revealed that today’s average Internet user has 27 different logins. This is due to the multitude of computer systems and websites that require user login and authentication. According to Statista, 42% of Internet users in the U.S. use the same password for multiple accounts.

On the one hand, 27 unique passwords are certainly a lot. On the other hand, using the same password makes it easy for Cyber criminals to get their hands on your information. If a hacker were to steal your Twitter password, and you use the same one for your bank’s mobile app, they could easily gain access to your bank account and clear out your funds.

Password Managers

A popular solution to the too-many-passwords issue is the use of a password manager, a tool that keeps track of all your passwords and organizes them clearly under one master password. Be careful, though: some of these services have been vulnerable to data breaches, as well.

Do’s and Don’t’s 

Do’s

  • Change your password every few months
  • Use an alphanumeric combination with upper and lowercase letters
  • Report any emails that ask for your password

Don’t’s

  • Reuse passwords
  • Increment by 1 number (i.e., johndoe18, johndoe19, johndoe20, and so on)
  • Use 1 password for all your sites

For more on the latest in Cyber Security trends and news, check out other HackerUSA blogs and news.

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