We often see in the news reports of hackers stealing personal information by targeting usernames, passwords and security questions.
Extra care must be taken when choosing passwords to ensure that personal data is protected.
There are numerous ways that hackers can assess accounts.
A popular method entitled ‘Brute Force’ sees hackers collect a dictionary of all words and commonly used passwords. They then cycle through all possible passwords until they gain access to the account.
However hackers can use a more complex method in which they try every key combination in the effort to find the correct password. Due to the overwhelming number of possible combinations, it can take several hours, days or months to successfully uncover a password.
A lot of users think their password is safe because a hacker can only make 3 attempts to guess what it is before the account is locked.
However, some hackers can break on to a website’s server and download password files, which can then be decrypted to reveal user log in details.
Dependant on the strength of the security measures in place on the website’s server, the task of hacking could range from being fairly accessible to practically impenetrable.
How to create a strong password
The stronger your password, the more protected your account will be from hackers and various malicious software.
But what makes a strong password?
- Users are advised to create a password with 8 characters or more
- It shouldn’t contain your name or your username
- Should not contain a complete word
- Is different from all other passwords
- Has a varied amount of characters, lowercase, uppercase, numbers and symbols
Another effective way to make an unsolvable password is to create an acronym of an easy to remember phrase and incorporate some of the tips above.
For instance, the phrase ‘my birthday is the 2nd of September’ could be ‘Mb1T2o$’
Alternatively, your password could be a phrase or sequence of intentionally misspelt words.
How to avoid creating an obvious password
Weak passwords are any passwords that can be easily guessed.
Hackers can effortlessly source personal information such as children’s names, pet names, dates of births etc. from social media and various other places.
The more information a hacker knows about you, the greater the chance on average of them figuring out your password.
In summary a weak password is:
- Found in a dictionary
- Personal to you
- Has no varied characters
If you are considering changing all of you passwords to make them stronger and more diverse, the best way of keeping them safe is to memorise them.