As we all know, the internet can be a wild, and usually not the safest, place. We use things like passwords and antivirus software to protect ourselves, but these are not simply push-and-forget methods. It is important to understand how and why these systems work, and how to make ours work even better. So, here are some tips on making your passwords stronger and more hack-proof, so you can have the peace of mind you need.
The safest passwords are the ones that are the most difficult to guess. Some of the most common passwords include ‘Password’, ‘12345’, and ‘qwerty’. Generally speaking, you wouldn’t want one of these passwords, as they are the first ones a potential hacker will try. For a list of the most common passwords you should avoid, visit: http://www.passwordrandom.com/most-popular-passwords
Generally speaking, you should avoid passwords that are dictionary words. For example, ‘Dog’ is a pretty easy password to guess, but it’s even easier for a key-logger to process and find. ‘Big Dog’ isn’t much better. Names, such as a user’s last name, aren’t great either, especially if the user’s name is in their login credentials.
If you include numbers, capital letters, and symbols such as numbers or &, *, or $, it will greatly increase the security of a given password. The strongest passwords are phrases or words that are broken up with symbols replacing certain letters. For example, if I wanted to make my password “example”, a much better password would be
“Ex@mp|3”. It’s easy to remember, because in my head it’s just “example”, but it’s much more complicated to guess.
While it may be tempting to re-use a strong password for multiple accounts, I must stress that you should never do this. While your password may be strong, in the event a hacker or virus deduces your password, every account or system protected by that password is now completely exposed.
Finally, consider using a password management software, such as KeePass. Programs like this will store your passwords behind an encrypted key file, allowing you to access them so long as the appropriate file is on your computer. Different programs work slightly differently, but their entire focus is on security, which makes them very difficult to crack.