In todays world having strong passwords has become an important layer of security to prevent hackers from getting access to your information. This blog discusses how to choose strong passwords.
Passwords are unavoidable in our lives. Between your email, social media accounts, streaming services, and other accounts, you likely have a list of login credentials you must manage. With this information overload, it’s easy to cut corners on how to choose a password. Of course, each set of login credentials is its own access point to your information; the last thing you want is to have these access points be vulnerable to hackers.
Investing time and effort into properly setting up and maintaining your passwords is well worth the hassle if it means that the baseline of security is as strong as it needs to be. The following are some tips for how to choose a password and maintaining your password security:
Imagine how secure your home, car and locked cabinets would be if they all shared the same key. Nobody would want to be this vulnerable for the sake of convenience in their real lives, and yet many people will use the same password across accounts.
Don’t Write it Down
It may be a pain to memorize your passwords, but it’s much more secure. Far too often, employees who feel comfortable at their workstations will leave a post-it note with their password affixed to their monitors. Keep in mind that your workplace is a public place. Coworkers, visitors, and cleaners can be in and out of your workstation, and a rogue post-it note is just an open invitation to your network.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Information Technology blog has a wonderful article called “3 Ways To Create Strong Passwords You Can Remember” describing how you can craft memorable, secure passwords that will eliminate the need for written records. The article provides you with some very useful tools and is well worth the read.
Longer passwords with mixed characters (upper case, lower case, numbers, and symbols) are ideal for an effective password. By integrating different characters, you avoid having common phrase passwords that are vulnerable to brute force hacks, where hackers run software that repeatedly tries to crack your passwords until they succeed and are able to gain access.
Unlike we have been trained to do, you do not need to change your passwords on regular intervals, and when this is practiced it can make your passwords weaker. This is a balancing act. If you are prompted to change your password too frequently, you’re more likely to use an easier-to-remember (thus, easier-to-hack) password. You may also make the above-noted mistake of writing it down.
As Lorrie Cranor suggested in a 2016 Federal Trade Commission blog, you should change your password when you feel it’s been compromised; if you have been logging into an account while in a crowded place, or if you’ve divulged your password to someone, change it.
Even by following the guidelines above remembering all of our passwords might be a bit of a challenge. It is also not recommended that they be written down or even kept electronically in a plan text file like the notes section on your phone or an excel spreadsheet. Using a password manager is a useful way to protect your passwords and to be able to reference those passwords when you do not remember them. Using a program like Passly or LastPass is a great option.
Multifactor authentication (MFA) adds an extra level of security to your accounts. Strong passwords are great but technically any password can be breached and therefore adding a multifactor authenticator will help to provide an extra level of security to your passwords. For more information on multifactor authentication check out the following posts: Multifactor Authentication: Why You Need It and How to Use It.
The need for strong and secure passwords is increasingly important with the rise of attempted account breaches. Using these guidelines above will help you to choose strong and secure passwords that will help to keep your information safe.