Why you should change your passwords right now

improve_your_password_security_today

Think your password is strong enough?

We’ve all been guilty of using weak passwords. But doing so makes you vulnerable to having your online accounts hacked. We all know we should use stronger passwords, so why don’t we?

Well, humans are creatures of habit. We like to repeat; it makes things easier to remember. We also find it difficult to remember complex patterns, so we use passwords that are easy to memorise, such as your house name, or date of birth.

Studies have found that 47% of users have actually used the same password for over 5 years. 21% use the same password for over 10 years.

 

The 5 most popular passwords are: qwerty, 12345, 123456, and 12345678, and even password. Incredible! And 73% of online accounts use duplicate passwords. Scary reading.

So you could potentially access someone’s account with no hacker knowledge whatsoever.

 

How to improve your password security right now

Changing passwords is a pain, I get that. Something new to remember. But with a few simple steps you can hugely improve your  account security. Try these ideas:

  • Don’t use personal information – avoid house names, children’s names, pets, dates of birth, the car you drive etc.
  • Mix it up – use numbers, uppercase and lowercase, and special characters.
  • Avoid dictionary words – if it can be found in a dictionary, it is easy to crack.
  • Change your password regularly – say every 3 months.
  • Do not duplicate – create a new password for each account.

 

The best method to create a secure password

One of the best, and simplest, methods of creating a stronger password is to write out a sentence you can remember, and then use the first letter of each word to create a phrase. For example:

I like coffee with two sugars in the morning

Convert this into a passphrase: Ilcw2sitm

You can see this creates a passphrase 9 characters long (which is longer than most passwords). It has uppercase, lowercase and a number.

To someone that doesn’t know the sentence used to create this passphrase, it looks difficult to remember. But to you, it’s simple because all you have to do is the remember the sentence – much easier right?

Let’s make it even more secure:

I like coffee with milk and two sugars in the morning = IlCwM+2sitm*

Here, we increased the length from 9 to 12 characters. We added 2 more uppercase letters, and 2 special characters. A huge improvement. Secure, but still pretty easy to remember.

 

Testing the strength

I ran these passphrases through a password cracking test tool to see just how secure they are. This is the amount of time it would take to crack each of the passphrases we created:

Ilcw2sitm

 

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IlCwM+2sitm*

 

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By making just a few small changes, you can see the difference in the strength of these passphrases is staggering.

Compare that to common passwords like 123, 1234, 123456,123456789, qwerty and abcdefg – all which take just 0.29 seconds to crack!

So there you have it. No excuses for weak passwords. Grab a coffee and start creating your own passphrases right now.

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