With all the hacks we’ve been hearing about lately, the need for stronger and unique passwords has become more stringent than ever. Good thing researchers are constantly seeking new ways to enhance the safety and ease of use of online authentication systems. It is possible that in a not so distant future we may even be able to authenticate using pass thoughts instead of passwords.
But for now, we need to focus on how to secure our online accounts and stay safe on the internet. Weak passwords are often the starting point of online crime.
Why do we need unique passwords?
By using a single password for all your online accounts you expose yourself to security risks. Cybercriminals may harvest your password on a poorly secured website and then all your other accounts are compromised, since they use the same password. Can you imagine what it would be like if you lost access to your email account, social network and online subscriptions in an instant? That spells disaster.
And what is a strong password?
As a general rule of thumb, if you want strong passwords, make them easy for you to remember and hard for others to guess. Unfortunately, it’s not often an easy task to find the right balance. Nowadays, password crackers use sophisticated techniques to break secret access codes. The stronger a password is, the longer the time to crack it.
A glance at password cracking
The most common password cracking techniques involve the so-called dictionary attacks and brute-force attacks. With brute-force attacks, all possible character combinations are tried, starting from simple, to complex. This approach is said to be time-consuming but very efficient. With dictionary attacks, hackers perform successive attempts to discover the password by using a predefined list, called ‘dictionary.’ Cybercriminals build and exchange lists of the most common passwords chosen by internet users.
However, many service providers have implemented supplementary security measures to prevent such attacks, by completely blocking access to accounts for a certain amount of time if successive failed login attempts are detected.
So what should you do?
Here are some tips on how to create a strong password and internet security advice:
- set up a password that is at least 8 characters long
- avoid using dictionary words such as ‘password,’ your pet’s name or your birthday
- avoid using words spelled backwards
- never use common character sequences on your keyboard (‘qwerty’, ‘1234567’)
- use a combination of lowercase and uppercase, special characters, punctuation and digits
- never store passwords in a text file on your computer
- use a trusted password manager if you can’t remember them
- change your passwords on a regular basis
- use strong and unique passwords for each account, no matter how hard this may seem in the first place
- confidently use a 2-step authentication process if available; for instance, with Google accounts a unique code that you receive on your mobile phone may be requested in addition to your password
- consider adding recovery options to your online accounts.
Creating strong passwords takes you steps ahead of online crime but does not keep you completely safe on the internet. Install BullGuard Internet Security 2013 now to protect you against malware infections and phishing sites!
Posted by Elena Ionica