Nowadays, you have to have a password to access anything. From Facebook to your accounting software, we all access our websites, banks, and applications with passwords. How secure are they? Do they really protect us from criminals getting into our personal and business information?
It’s Harder to Get Real Protection
Getting real protection from a password isn’t as easy as it used to be. Everything related to computers keeps getting more sophisticated, and hacking software and the bad guys’ ability to figure out how to access our information gets more advanced all the time, too.
The first line of defense is the number of characters in your password. Have you noticed that many websites now require 6 or 8 digits? The more digits a password has, the harder it is for hackers to figure it out.
A hacker uses software that tries every possible combination of characters until it hits the right combination (it’s more complicated than that, but that’s the underlying idea). It used to be hackers could try thousands of combinations per second, now, 4 billion combinations per second is easily possible. Every added digit you put in your passwords makes it that much harder for them to figure it out.
How to Create Strong Passwords
To make your passwords as secure as possible, here are a few actions to take:
- First, make all your passwords at least 8 characters, 12 is better, more than 12 characters is best (up to the maximum number allowed).
- Second, use some capital letters and some lower case letters.
- Third, use one or more punctuation or other symbols (spaces aren’t generally allowed).
Ideally, you would have a different username and password every time you need one, although that may not be very practical. It is NOT a good idea, though, to use the same one everywhere. At least have a more complicated, harder-to-crack password for your online bank or other financially-related passwords, and don’t use that same one in other, less secure places.
Besides creating strong passwords, the trick is to remember them, of course. Help is available with a password ‘vault’, an application that creates strong random passwords and then stores, organizes, and manages them for you. Look at LastPass, KeePass, and 1Password.
If you’d like to learn more about passwords, see this LifeHacker article.
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Alesa Locklear provides content marketing, such as blogs and e-newsletters, to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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