How easy would it be for hackers to take control of your online accounts?
You probably think your passwords are strong and secure. There’s no way that a hacker could guess your passwords! Having elaborate, difficult-to-guess passwords is an absolute necessity in a world that spends most of its time online.
Take a look at some of the most common password mistakes that people make. Find out how to ensure you don’t put your business’ IT security at risk or leave yourself vulnerable to hacking.
Using personal information
Many people base their passwords on personal information. Maybe you use your own name, your birthday or even your address. You might use the name of your favourite celebrity or sports player, even a high school friend. And why not? They’re simple and easy to remember.
They may be easy for you to remember, but they’re also easy for a hacker to guess.
Especially with the rise of social media, it’s easy for hackers to find out personal information about you.
Hackers will be using a special software to crack your password and this software will look for common combinations involving personal information.
Just including a recognizable word gives hackers a better chance at cracking your password! So make sure you don’t use any personal information that could give a hacker the key to your online world.
Using common passwords
Many people use the same passwords that are easy and simple. The most frequently used passwords are: ‘123456’, ‘abcdefg’, qwerty and ‘letmein’ – and, obviously, password!
These may be easy patterns for you to remember, but they will be the first ones a hacker will try.
Many people find it easier to remember shorter passwords. But the shorter they are, the easier they are to guess.
Hackers will be using a password-cracking software that will be able to guess passwords as short as 5 to 6 characters in a heartbeat. The longer your password is, the longer it takes them to crack it. The more time they spend trying to crack it and failing, the more likely they are to give up and move on.
5-6 characters used to be difficult to crack many years ago, but technology is much more advanced now and this is a walk in the park for hackers these days.
Make your password between 12 and 14 characters and you’ll make the hackers job much harder.
Not complex enough
Many people make their passwords too simple and way too easy for hackers. Using passwords that contain all letters or all numbers is a fatal mistake made by many and one to avoid.
Your password should include upper and lower case letters, numbers and keyboard symbols. This will make it much harder for hackers to crack.
Following common patterns
You may think you’re creating a complex password, but check again. Even a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols that you think will appear random to hackers won’t be. They know how to look out for common patterns that people use to create their passwords.
The chances are, you’re following a similar pattern that many people use without even knowing it. Hackers are good at spotting patterns that people usually resort to such as just putting two or four numbers before or after letters or just sticking a keyboard symbol at the end of the password.
A lot of sites require you to include a symbol in your password and the first thing people do is stick a ‘!’ at the end. Your best bet is to use these special characters throughout your password and use more than one.
So create a logical code that you understand using letters, numbers and various symbols. But remember that swapping letters for numbers isn’t enough – the software will crack that quickly.
As with symbols, try spreading the numbers throughout instead of bunching them together at the end.
Using one password
I’m sure most of us are guilty of using the same password for multiple accounts. Otherwise it can get confusing and you forget which password you used for which account.
However, if a hacker works out that one password, they’ve got access to all of your accounts using that same password, which poses a massive security risk for you.
Nowadays, having access to your online accounts can mean having access to most of your life.
Having a password list
Although not so useful for online hackers, its amazing how many people have a written list of their passwords. If someone breaks into your house….
Using the same password for years
If someone has your password and you don’t change it for years, they have the power to spy on what you’re doing and steal your information for a long time.
You can prevent this by changing your password regularly. It can be hard creating a password that you’ll remember and is also strong enough to counteract all the mistakes explained here. More and more IT departments are using these. If your’s hasn’t give us a call and we can help.
With the exception of having a photographic memory and instant recall, managing passwords whilst maintaining IT security levels can be difficult. There are password management tools our there, such as Zoho Vault, Dashlane or Logmeonce. Two-factor authentication tools such as RSA or Duo are alternatives too.
We hope this review of common password mistakes helps you. If you have any questions, you know who to call. If you’re in need of any general IT support or help improving your IT security, please get in touch.