It's a new year, and remembering to reset your passwords can be just as important as that new gym membership.
At the beginning of a new year, many people are focused on change. But one thing people don't think about changing is their passwords. Think about it. How long have you been using the same password? Is it weak or strong? Do you know the difference? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself to keep your cyber-self healthy and secure in 2018.
For the second year in a row, "123456" remained the top password among the millions of passwords exposed online thanks to data breach incidents at various providers.That's really bad. But other passwords found on a "Top 100 Worst Passwords of 2017" list might be just as terrible. The list was compiled by SplashData, and was created from five million leaked credentials.
Here's the top 20:
If you are using any of these passwords, or any on the full list, please change them. Immediately.
Hackers use these same leaked records to build their own lists or 'dictionaries' to help them carry out attacks. Even more alarming, hackers have access to many password-guessing tools that can submit thousands of words per minute. One of the basic ones is a dictionary tool. If your password is anything close to a dictionary word, it's definitely not secure. The less that your password resembles regular word patterns, the longer it will take for a tool to guess it. Of course, a dedicated hacker can crack any password... so you really just want to create a password that will highly discourage them from continuing the hack.
Strong password tips:
- Use a minimum of 12 characters
- Create a sentence or phrase to help you remember it
- Use a mixture of upper-and-lowercase letters, numbers and characters
- Swap numbers or characters for letters
- Change your passwords at least every 6 months (more often for important accounts)
Using the tips above, here's an example, "My sister's first car was a green '98 civic. It was $100 per month." That could be translated into this password: Sis1stcargreen98civic$100pm! That is definitely a strong, yet memorable password.
You could also use a password manager. These tools create random passwords for all of your accounts, but you need to be sure to create a strong password for the password manager itself.
Cheers to you and your stronger passwords in 2018!