Creating passwords that are hard to crack, good and bad habits in password management
In this article you will learn:
what password sins we most often commit
why poorly configured passwords can get you into trouble
how to solve the problem of remembering many passwords
Think about all the passwords you use… Do they include such passwords as: 123456, qwerty, password, admin, 1111 or abc123? If the answer is yes, you are among hundreds of thousands of fans of the most popular passwords in the world. Hackers love you, and the data in your computer trembles every time you use it…
Do you want to change this?
Convenience or security?
Logins for your computer, email, Facebook, online clothes or tools stores, newspaper subscriptions, Allegro, bank accounts, parent zones, forums for owners of allotments… Every day we log in to multiple sites. It is cumbersome and often frustrating. It’s easy to succumb to the temptation to use one password everywhere (well, two or three at the most), preferably a password that is simple enough that it will never be forgotten. If we allow the browser to store them, we are home free … except for the fact that this is an invitation for trouble.
The desire for convenience also means that we almost never change our passwords (or we do it once a year, adding another digit to the end!), we write them down on cards or in our phone, we do not turn on two-step authentication (unless the system forces us to do so), and often we do not even use any security, e.g. on our smartphone.
Believing that no one could possibly be interested in our password can be a painful and costly lesson.
Hackers on the prowl
Hackers can take the password you use to log into a poorly secured and irrelevant website and use it to log into your bank account. It will only take them a moment.
You might have an image of hackers sitting over a blank piece of paper trying to guess your favorite dish or movie, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Cyber criminals have sophisticated IT tools for cracking passwords. They have algorithms that check passwords for the most common combinations. They can pass a simple security measure involving one short word with no special characters in seconds.
Tips: make sure each of your passwords is at least 12 character long and consists of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. It shouldn’t be a word you can find in a dictionary. A hacker’s algorithm is unlikely to crack such a combination.
Additionally, change the passwords that protect your most valuable data (bank accounts, email, mobile banking) every two to three months. Activate two-step verification whenever you can. And do not carry around passwords written on pieces of paper.
That is all well and good, but how can you manage this in practice?
It’s easier said than done. You have so much on your mind, and now you have to create long and complicated passwords, use different security features in different applications, and in addition, make sure they are changed regularly? Is all this really necessary?
And yet, it can be done.
Password manager at your service
Do you keep post-it notes, notebooks, calendars or files named cryptically “My Passwords” on your desktop? These are not the best way to go. A password manager is the perfect guard.
A password manager is software that stores all of our passwords to websites and applications in an encrypted storage space. The best bodyguard you can hire for your computer. It captures and saves the login credentials that you use on various websites, so that the next time you access them, the information is available automatically. The only thing you have to remember is your password for the manager. Since it is only one, you can go crazy in coming up with a long and complicated combination.
Tip: some of the best software of this type includes: LastPass, KeePass, Password Safe, 1Password, Remembear and StickyPassword.
When choosing the right password manager, consider the security of password storage, additional features that make security entry easier (such as two-step authentication), and credential synchronization and backup.
Did you know that:
39% of Poles do not regularly change their online banking passwords and 36% do not change their mobile banking passwords?
67% of respondents admit to using the same passwords in different places, 16% of which acknowledge doing it often?
10% of Poles do not use any password protection methods, and only 5% use a password manager?