Photo via adria.richards
Perhaps the biggest threat to internet security for an individual use is not the prospect of computer viruses, malware, or so-called “trojan horse”data mining programs. It is, in most cases, the use of a weak or easily-guessed password which can compromise the user’s email, social media accounts, private financial information, and even their work documentation and office computers. That’s a pretty significant threat to just about anyone, but it can be easily avoided by choosing a password which combines uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as a few numbers, and avoiding the most commonly-guessed password phrases currently in use on the internet today. Following a few tips can save the average user from a nightmarish scenario of hacked accounts, stolen information, and even financial consequences.
Don’t Pick a Password Which Can be Easily Monitored Upon Entry
All too often, internet users pick a password which is extremely easy for an onlooker to guess. They’ll pick things which consecutive numbers (“56789” or something similar), or consecutive letters (anything from “abcd” to “asdf”). This is an extremely poor strategy for two reasons. First and foremost, anyone gazing at a user’s keyboard will quickly be able to guess their password and compromise their accounts. Secondly, password-guessing applications used by hackers and other malicious users will always try consecutive letter and number combinations before they dig deeper into a user’s possible passwords. This type of password is easy to guess by both people nearby and malicious hackers anywhere in the world. It’s a double threat which should be avoided, period.
Don’t Pick Easily Guessed Words or Names
The problem with many internet passwords is that they’re simply too easy and obvious, even for people who can’t tell exactly what is being typed by looking at the user’s keyboard. All too often, internet users will create a password which primarily uses the name of their spouse, child, street, hometown, or alma mater. It’s as easy for hackers to guess as it is for the user to remember, making it an obvious problem. Even pairing such passwords with random numbers or uppercase letters won’t solve the problem. When malicious users try to gain a password, they’ll use a tool which checks virtually every dictionary word, along with every combination of numbers and letter cases, to gain access.
Try Creating a Cryptic Password from a Phrase
One of the best tricks that can assist in the creation of a strong password is to think of a phrase and then use the first letter of each word in that phrase as the password for online accounts and computers. This is actually encouraged by many leading security firms due to the difficulty posed to hackers when trying to guess the password in question. Here’s an example of a phrase, and how it would be translated into a password:
“I am creating 1 very secure password which contains 13 BIG characters.”
This phrase becomes the following:
The letters are intentionally placed into the phrase, and deliberate use of capital letters allows for variation in case. This makes the password a triple threat, as it contains both random letters and numbers, as well as random uppercase letters. And of course, with thirteen charters, it will be hard to guess just based on its length.
Choose a Longer Password
Speaking of length, a longer password is almost always a better and more secure password, especially when paired with the random case and letter-number mix that should be the case in every password regardless of length. An increase in overall length means that any malicious users will have to try a larger and more complex list of automated combinations when trying to unlock a user’s information and, more than likely, they’ll give up long before they come anywhere close to gaining access to a user’s websites, finances, or devices.
When it Comes to Securing Electronic Information, Common Sense is Key
Creating a secure password is largely a common-sense affair once a user understands that dictionary words can be easily and ably guessed by most hacker. The use of a phrase to develop a more secure password, or the use of a password generating website or application, provides a way to fly under the radar and elude hackers, while protecting financial, personal, and corporate information.