Almost everyone is connected to the internet in some form, and while the internet is a wonderful opportunity — full of offerings for people from all walks of life, it is more important than ever for us to be ‘CyberFit’ and smart about cyber protection. Being CyberFit requires vigilance, up-to-date knowledge of safe cybersecurity practices, and integrated cyber protection software. It may seem daunting and overwhelming to stay on top of being CyberFit, but it is a lot easier than it looks.
Raising awareness about the growing cyberthreat landscape and how anyone — from IT professionals to home users — can stay as safe as possible without sacrificing too much time and too many resources has become important.
In addition, this blog will touch upon passwords, and in particular, how to create secure passwords for all your accounts and keep them safe from unwanted parties.
How to create secure passwords
A lot rides on your passwords, so let’s keep them safe.
We are guilty of doing it too — using an easy password for sites that don’t seem that important. Some use 123456, while others use qwerty1. In my early years, I was an email administrator and we could usually crack most passwords by sitting at a user’s desk and looking for a sticky note under their keyboard, or worse, on their monitor. Maybe a pet’s name, or a nickname, and then adding the obligatory exclamation point or capital letter. Unfortunately, those days have yielded to advances in technology where programs can crack your easy password in minutes or even seconds.
How long does it take to crack your password? According to our friends at Security.org, a standard eight-character password can be cracked almost instantaneously. Want to add 22 minutes to the time to crack? Include a capital letter. Want more protection? Adding in a special character combined with a capital letter takes one hour to crack. Scary, isn’t it?
In truth, the eight-character password is not as secure as it used to be. Your job is to protect your passwords while also making it harder for bad actors to guess or crack them. So, how long should your password be? The answer proves difficult as industry experts have different opinions on password length and complexity. What these experts tend to agree on is eight characters is the minimum and should be alphanumeric. Research from Security.org highlights that 45 per cent of the people they surveyed use passwords that are eight characters or fewer, but they recommend longer passwords for enhanced security.
So, how safe is your password? The experts at Statista prepared a chart showing how long it takes to crack passwords of different sizes, lengths, and complexity. Spoiler: longer and more complex is the way to go. What are you going to do to protect your passwords? We have some ideas.
- Move to longer passwords with at least one number, symbol and uppercase letter
- Avoid common phrases, pet names, spouse names, kids’ names, car models, etc.
- Don’t share your passwords with others
- Avoid re-using passwords on multiple sites. Reason: if one gets hacked, they all get hacked
- Don’t use sequential numbers or letters (abc, 123, etc.)
- Don’t store your password list in plain text on your computer
- Never use your email password for other sites
- Don’t just add the current year to your current password
- Create unique passwords without using common names
- Don’t use dictionary words, that’s what cracking tools use
Cybercriminals and their tools are more sophisticated than you think, so by taking a few extra steps now, it can save you time, money and aggravation later.
A couple of extra steps now can help protect you later. We also recommend making sure you have a comprehensive cyber protection solution. Just because life is complex, it doesn’t mean your software needs to be.