Your passwords… make them strong
There are various tools and methods that hackers use to crack your passwords. One of the most common being BruteForce. As an example, if I decided to make a password using my initials combined with my birth year and my Mother’s birth year, “wni5378”, BruteForce will crack it in 2 seconds.
A recent analysis of hacked Yahoo accounts revealed some laughable trends in commonly-chosen passwords. “123456” was at the top of the list, followed by “qwerty,” “welcome,” “ninja,” and “abc123.” If these sound like passwords of yours, it’s time to make a change because BruteForce cracks those kinds of passwords instantly.
Here are some pointers to help you create much stronger passwords easily.
- Longer passwords are obviously harder to crack. Make sure you’re consistently exceeding the minimum length requirement on passwords that you pick.
A relatively simple way of remembering a complex password is this: Make a sentence and then string together every first letter of every word in that sentence, use punctuation and be case sensitive.
“I, drive a 1978 Volkswagen!” = I,da78VW!
This password would take seven months to be cracked using BruteForce.
“Living At Home (Since 1972) Sux.” = L@H(S72)SX.
This password would take two hundred months to be cracked using BruteForce.
- Never use the same password twice. Sharing the same password for your FaceBook and Twitter accounts, for example, is a very bad idea. If someone successfully cracks one password, it will be the first password they guess for one of your other accounts.
Make sure you’re using several different passwords to prevent this from happening and change your passwords frequently.
- If any of the online services you use offer a two-step verification service then you should definitely use it. Two-step verification would be, step one, entering a password as per normal then, step two, entering a code sent to your device via text message.
- Do not share your passwords with anyone. Ever.
- Do not write your passwords down. Using simple creation techniques like the one above will be easy to remember.
- When you’re done creating a password, check that it will be strong enough by visiting the “How Secure is my Password” website here: https://howsecureismypassword.net/
This website gives you BruteForce cracking ETA and, if your password is not strong enough, they give some pointers on how to make it stronger.
Another good preventative measure against being hacked is to simply be mindful of how and where you are using online services or accessing your secure devices.
Yes, free WiFi at the local Coffee Shop is a welcome service. But it will also welcome hackers to sit back and literally sniff your sensitive data out of the air.
They use packet sniffing techniques that can read data being transmitted between the access point and your device. So, unless you’re reading an online news service or something similar that doesn’t require a login, then rather wait until you are connected to your own private or workplace network. It is way too easy for a hacker to grab your banking details and you wouldn’t even know it happened until it was over.
When you have finished Facebooking, Tweeting, Tumbling, Flickering, or whatevering, get into the habit of logging out of the service before closing the browser or closing your laptop lid. This removes your login from the browser cache which is a place that hackers monitor continuously.
Always make sure that you are on an official website when entering passwords. For example, a phishing scams can lead you to a FaceBook login page with the URL faecbook.com instead of facebook.com. Always check the URL, never assume.
If you are accessing online services from your mobile device and your battery starts running low, only use a trustworthy USB port to charge your device if a wall charger is not available to you. To a hacker, your phone is a flash drive they will exploit very easily.
Remember, prevention is always better than cure and every deterrent helps.
William N. Irwin