While in phishing attacks you can be more vigilant and skeptical of questionable sources, hacking attacks aren’t always detectable until it’s too late, so your best bet is to make yourself a more difficult target.
The first step to making yourself less of a target is having a good password. There are lots of different thoughts on how to make the strongest password, but there is some consensus on what makes the worst passwords. If you see your password on this list, we highly recommend changing it today.
To get an idea of how to make a strong password, it’s good practice to think about how passwords can be broken, which generally falls into two categories:
- Guessing personal information (birthdays, anniversaries, kids’ names, etc)
Using significant dates and names as a password makes it very easy for you to remember your password, but it also drastically reduces the number of options an attacker has to go through to guess the correct password.
- Brute force trial-and-error
Initially with brute force attacks, an attacker uses a computer to loop through all possible combinations of letters to break a password, and so security professionals recommended longer passwords made up of a few easy-to-remember words so the computers guessing would statistically have to go through trillions of trials before stumbling upon your password, but then attackers adapted to attempt combinations of words, making your 5-word password no better than a 5-letter password.
The strongest passwords of today all have a few things in common:
- Mixed case
- Add numbers
- Add symbols
- Avoid personal information
- Avoid reusing passwords
That last tip is a big one. Like we mentioned earlier, data breaches are just another part of 21st century life now, and part of that is your email address and passwords for those sites being exposed. If you log in with the same password across all your sites and your password is ever exposed, suddenly all your other accounts become vulnerable. Keeping a strong password unique to each account is the best way to keep all of your various accounts secure. If you’re worried about forgetting dozens of different passwords, fear not, here are a few password manager services that will help you keep all your accounts locked up tight.
The second step to making yourself less of a target is to make sure the only way to access your information is through the login page. You’ve likely seen these icons or messages on your computer or website