Password Security and Why it Matters
Most companies on the internet require you to create an account to use their services. Whether you are signing up for a social media account, downloading an app, purchasing or selling an item, or simply wanting to subscribe to a newsletter or podcast. One common theme exists, you must create an account using a username and password. Chances are, you use different variations of the same password.
Online Banking: Cats_1Rock!
…and so on.
Sure, this makes it easy to remember, but is your personal information and security worth the risk? Probably not. You might be thinking “it’s just Twitter, I don’t post anything important anyway,” but that is not the main issue.
The main issue with account hacking lies within the information that hackers are trying to obtain. Hackers aren’t interested in what you post on Twitter or Facebook, they’re interested in your demographic, your personal information (such as your birthday and location), your email, and other connected apps. By obtaining your email, hackers are able to find other accounts — like an online banking account — that is also linked to the same email. The more information they can obtain, the better their chances are of using that information to hack your other accounts. and Sometimes they will even sell your information for identity thieves to assume your identity and create fake accounts at your expense.
Secure, Unique Passwords
When you’re creating a password for a new account, there are usually a few requirements. “Must be 6-20 characters, including 1 number and 1 symbol,” or some other sort of combination. These “unique” passwords make it harder for a hacker to gain access to your account.
The secure part comes from the combination of different letters, symbols, and numbers used to create the password. The unique aspect means the password is only being used for one account with no variations. Although that can be a pain as you may not be able to simply remember all of the passwords, it will be beneficial for your personal online security.
Strong, unique passwords also matter because hackers can use a technique called brute forcing to gain access to your accounts. Brute forcing is when the hacker will run a system to use every possible password combination until the correct password is identified. If a hacker is able to identify a password for one account, and the rest of your account passwords are similar, it will be an easy process for them to determine the rest of your passwords. Since a standard password combination includes the first letter capitalized and a number at the end, brute forcing can be an easy task once the word in a non-unique password is determined. By changing this format, you can also make your password more complex and less identifiable.
Original Password: Catsrock41
New Password: 1Cats4rOCk1
Overall, it’s a simple word and number combination, but by changing the number placement and the capitalization location, it makes the password more unique and secure. Another concept that can be used to remember passwords is by turning a phrase into letters, numbers, and symbols.
Phrase: “Today my cat says to me – if I fits I sits!”
This takes the words and changes them to letters or numbers (for to 4) and adds capitalization throughout. Don’t forget to add punctuation as well to make it even more complex! You can do this phrase method with lyrics, poems, quotes and much more to personalize the password even more.
If you are still wanting more security for your accounts — whether it be Facebook or online banking — you can use a two-factor authentication password. Two-factor authentication is not available for every site, but some sites that offer two-factor authentication include, Facebook, Instagram, Apple, Bank of America, Capital One, and more.
When using two-factor authentication, two steps will be required to access your account when logging in on a new or unrecognizable device. For Facebook, the first step is to log-in with your password. Then, you can verify your account by sending a text message to yourself or you can log-in with a third-party authentication app. This allows your account to stay secure when a hacker attempts to access the account.
As more of our lives become online, the importance of password security will only continue to increase. By following these steps of using a minimum of 12 characters with an odd combination of capitalization, numbers, and symbols, you won’t have to worry about hackers.