How Safe is Your Password?
With the growing uses of online media and technology, we all login and register to multiple sites, services and app’s. Varying from social media profiles to online shopping accounts, each of these generally needs a valid email address and password for you to access them… but how safe is your password and what can you do to make it safe?
Does it Matter if Your Password is Safe?
Passwords are like electronic keys, you need them to access your various online accounts and profiles. They’re a form of identification which should be kept safe like you would your house or car keys.
A recent survey from Cyber Streetwise revealed that a vast majority of people are not taking the necessary steps to protect their identity online, with 75% admitting they do not follow best practice to create complex passwords, two thirds are risking their safety by not using symbols in passwords. While nearly half (47%) have other unsafe password habits such as using pet names or significant dates as their password.
Also According to Ofcom’s “Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2013” report, more than half (55%) of adult internet users admit they use the same password for most, if not all, websites. Meanwhile, a quarter (26%) say they tend to use easy to remember passwords such as birthdays or names, potentially opening themselves up to the threat of account hacking.
Each time you use a simple password especially ones that could be easily guessed, you are putting yourself at risk of account hacking, but it is could be more serious if you use the same password on multiple accounts.
Whats Wrong with Using the Same Password?
As mentioned at the start of the this article, passwords are like keys. Imagine on your key ring you had only one key, that could unlock your bike, car, house and tool box. Although it’s easier to have one key to open them all, what if someone else found your key? They would have access to all of them, meaning you could lose them all. In this situation, each has its on security/value, although the tool box (in the image below) is probably the least valuable item, using the same key makes your other item including your house of the same value as your tool box.
In a similar way, if you use the same password on multiple sites including your email and online banking account and someone was able to get your password from one of those sites, they could gain access to your other account since you are using the same details. Each account you have, has a its own value, meaning you should have more secure and complex passwords and why its recommenced to use different login details on different sites.
Most Common Passwords/Worst Passwords
Did you know that the most popular password in 2014 was 123456. This ‘password’ is so simple it can easily be guessed, it offers no protection, which leaves you completely vulnerable to online fraud and identity theft.
In January 2014 SplashData announced its annual list of the 25 most common passwords found on the Internet – thus making them the “Worst Passwords” that will expose anybody to being hacked or having their identities stolen. Their fourth annual report is collated from more than 3.3 million leaked passwords during 2014. In the report “123456” and “password” have been the most common password since their first list in 2011.
Have a look at the ‘Top 10 – Worst Passwords of 2014’
Generally we like to create passwords from things that we can easily remember, such as birthdays,name and places. Although basing you password on things memorable to you, makes it easier to remember, it also make your password predictable to guess.
During the ‘Be Cyber Streetwise‘ campaign, it’s also said that you should never use any word which is related to you and may be easy to guess, for example by looking at your social media pages. Never use:
- Pet’s name
- Other family members’ name
- Favorite holiday
- Current partner’s name
- Child’s name
- Place of birth
- Something related to your favourite sports team
They recommend a simple way of making a stronger password by adding three random words. (Just make sure they are not to random, so that you forget ;p)
What Makes a Password Strong
Strong passwords come in a variety of styles and formats. It is recommended to use words that can be found in a dictionary(fictional words) and involve a mixture of letters, numbers, cases and symbols.
Things to Include in a Password
- Mix capital and lowercase letters
- Include punctuation marks and/or numbers
- Include more than eight characters
- Include numbers or replace letters with numbers: E.G Password – P455w0rd
- Try an acronym password
Things not to Include in a Password
- Don’t use your birthday,pet names or favorite sport teams as your password
- Try not to uses the exact same username and password combination for multiple websites
- Any of common/worst passwords listed stronger password
Other methods to help with passwords
Perhaps try a password manager like LastPass to organize, remember, generate random passwords and automatically log into websites.
Try using three random words.