This year, World Password Day falls on May 3. An initiative devised to make you think about how well you secure your accounts; this annual event started in 2013.
It may not be the most alluring celebration, but the organizers of World Password Day are on a mission. So, there’s no time like the present to think about how seriously you take your online security.
Make World Password Day the day you get rid of your bad habits.
Why should I care about password safety?
Because you must, hackers have given you no choice but to be super wary of how you choose account credentials.
Passwords are by far the most popular way for users to secure accounts. But they are incredibly vulnerable.
With access to passwords, cybercriminals easily enter accounts and do what they like with the data they find. As well as browsing your private files, thieves can drain your bank account and go on a spending spree with your store cards too. Even your identity could be at risk.
How to crack a password
Cybercrooks have several ways to steal a user’s password:
Using tools easily obtained from the Internet, cybercriminals can hack into weak networks like public WiFi hotspots, and intercept passwords in real-time.
Hackers use automated bots to test countless password options in the hope of finding a match.
Typically, a phishing attack works when unsuspecting users receive legitimate-looking emails with malware hidden in links or attachments.
Cybercrooks test millions of common words and phrases to find a match to your password. Learn more about dictionary attacks here.
Keyloggers monitor keystrokes – logging your data in the process. Keyloggers are usually activated through malicious software programs but can be deployed as hardware devices too.
Plain Text Passwords
If a hacker gains access to your machine and you store your passwords in a plain text file you’re in trouble. There are no security measures in place to stop them from being taken.
It’s easy to acquire credentials harvested from previous data breaches on the Dark Web. Hackers test them against other accounts in the hope of finding a match.
7 tips for secure passwords
Celebrate World Password Day and look at your existing passwords to evaluate how safe they really are. If you spot any that need attention – change them. But before you do, read our top tips on securing your accounts.
1. Never, ever, ever reuse a password
If you reuse the same password over multiple accounts, you are putting yourself at risk. If that password was involved in a previous data breach, it could be used to attack your other accounts.
2. Don’t write them down
We’ve already told you how hackers can steal your plain text passwords from your computer, but what about physical examples? You might think that jotting down your passwords on a scrap of paper is safe. It’s not.
3. The longer, the better
Make sure your passwords are at least 12 characters long. Anything shorter and you risk becoming a hacker’s next victim.
4. Make them complex
Don’t use letters, never use common dictionary words and experiment with symbols and numbers too. Complicated, nonsensical passwords are almost impossible to crack with brute-force or dictionary attacks.
5. Change your passwords regularly
Get rid of old passwords. You don’t need to change them monthly but rotate them occasionally to thwart any hackers who might already be in possession of your credentials.
6. Use multi-factor authentication
Not every site that requires you to enter a password will offer multi-factor authentication, but if it does, use it. Deploying this extra layer of security gives you added protection with minimal effort. So even if your password is cracked your account SHOULD remain protected.
7. Use a password manager
It’s incredibly difficult to remember multiple, complicated passwords, that’s why so many people opt for weak alternatives. Use a password manager to store your credentials safely. That way you only have to remember one password to access them all.