Password security plays an important role in the lives of everyone who uses the Internet. Despite its importance, few people know the best password practices for 2017. I suggest following these four concepts to boost security and keep private information away from thieves.
While some websites still force you to use complex passwords that include special characters, numbers and capitalized letters, people don’t get better security by following these requirements. I find that complex passwords give me a false sense of security. In reality, hacker software knows how to swap letters, special characters and numbers so quickly that many of them can break into accounts within a few days of work.
The complexity of a password, therefore, doesn’t have a big impact on an account’s security. Using a lot of special characters makes it harder for humans to remember passwords, but computers can still guess the passwords easily.
Instead, I find that I get better security by creating longer passwords. The more characters a password uses, the harder it becomes for software to solve.
When account owners use long strings of characters, password-cracking software has to guess each character to access the accounts. Since it’s much harder to guess 12 characters in a row than eight, users will get better security from a length password. The longer a password is, the more protection it offers.
When choosing a password, I like to avoid using real words that I can find in the dictionary. Many password crackers have dictionaries that help them break into accounts. If I use real words, then the software will find a match eventually. Once that happens, the hacker can gain access to my account.
Instead of using real words, I make up nonsense or gibberish that doesn’t mean anything. I also use a random password generator to create gibberish that neither humans nor software can understand easily.
With enough time, effort and luck, a hacker can decipher your password. It’s unlikely that anyone would devote that many resources to read your emails or hijack your Facebook page, but it could happen.
Unfortunately, a lot of people use the same password for their social media accounts as their bank and credit card accounts. Once hackers discover one of those passwords, they will use it on websites that store important personal and financial information.
Using the same password for multiple accounts makes as much sense as using the same key for a home, car, office and safe-deposit box.
I make life harder for hackers by using a different password for every account I have. I don’t even make the passwords similar. Each one contains unique strings of gibberish.
Gibberish will keep passwords safe, but the human brain doesn’t recall random sequences easily.
I could write down my passwords, but then I run the risk that someone will break into my home and find my private information. Suddenly, the thief doesn’t have to haul valuable items from my home. He just has to log-in to my Amazon account and buy things with my credit card.
Instead, I use a password manager like LastPass. LastPass can remember an unlimited number of passwords. The app immediately signs me into the websites that I visit regularly. It will even share passwords with my mobile devices. I just have to remember one master password that unlocks information in LastPass’s encrypted vault.
Password security will only become more important over the next decade. I suggest getting into the habit of following these best practices now to ensure online security.