In a digital world where everything is stored, secured, and controlled through the internet, passwords are your only line of defense against leaking sensitive data to the outside world.
While this may sound a bit extreme, there’s no denying that security breaches are on the rise and will continue to increase. If someone gains access to your bank account, website domain registration, or email account, damage can be widespread and sometimes unrepairable.
The good news is that you can control your risk by understanding how security breaches happen and what to do to avoid them.
How are passwords exposed?
Before going over password best practices, it’s important to understand why you need a highly secure password to begin with. To access your secure data, someone needs access to your account password. There are a few ways your account passwords can be compromised:
- You specifically are being targeted. If someone knows you well, they may be able to guess your email password and use password recovery options to access your other accounts.
- A brute-force attack is carried out. Whether someone attempts to access a group of user accounts or just yours, brute-force attacks are the go-to strategy for cracking passwords. These attacks work by using a program to check all possible passphrases until the correct one is found. If a hacker already has an idea of what your password might be, they can set guidelines in the program, making the attack much easier.
- There’s a data breach. Too often, there’s news that another big company reports a major data breach, resulting in millions of people’s account information being compromised. Unfortunately, these can be unavoidable.
Password best practices
While it can be quick and convenient to have all of your passwords set to password321 or Lastname1, these are easy targets for brute-force attacks and hackers who may know you.
When deciding on a new password, it’s important to remember a few best practices:
- Contain a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, punctuation, numbers, and symbols.
- Contain at least 10 characters.
- Be unique from other accounts you have.
- Never include complete words found in the dictionary.
- For maximum security, use passphrases. Passwords like IhtAFwtSBi2017! (“I hope the Atlanta Falcons win the Super Bowl in 2017!”) will be easy for you to remember, but extremely hard to break.
The primary reason why people use simple passwords is because they are easy to remember. Now that you have so many unique passwords to keep up with, you need an easy to way to track them.
Password managers are tools that can keep all of your usernames and passwords stored securely for you to access anywhere. The most popular type of manager is a web browser extension that automatically logs you into accounts as you browse the Web.
There are many password managers out there. Some of the most popular include LastPass, Dashlane, and 1Password. Using a password manager will help encourage you to use a more secure password since remembering them will no longer be an issue.
If you have any questions about making your practice more secure, please call your marketing manager.