Tips for Building Better Passwords

Love them or hate them, passwords are the initial line of defense in our daily digital lives, usually playing the leading role as gatekeeper to our precious online information.  This inevitability leaves people stuck attempting to remember several passwords and manage them properly, something that usually means they’ll create an easily remembered and crackable password once and use it everywhere.

While online security professionals can enforce policy on a password’s length, expiration and use of character types, typically only a small segment of the population creates truly strong passwords they will remember and avoid using elsewhere.

There are ways to build better passwords with simple changes that can add strength to your current password status.  Note this phrase: two-factor authentication is a big deal in the security world.

With that said, here’s a primer on passwords, easily shared with business colleagues or family members who like us might need a reminder about the importance and practice of online security.

Why are passwords important?                            Password Security

Having a password is the most basic level of protection you can have for the information you are storing in services or applications, be it your personal Facebook account, your online banking site, or your company’s customer tracking system. The problem is that everything is online now, and everything needs a password. So it’s tempting to make your password simple and easy to remember. Perhaps you have a go-to password you’ve used for everything since college. Or maybe you write your password down so you don’t forget it.

If you do any of those things, you’re probably in the majority, not the minority. Creating long, complex passwords that are unique for every service you use is a challenge, and remembering them all is near impossible.  (Learn about Last Pass, a password tool highlighted in the video below).

The problem is that simple, easy-to-remember passwords are also easy to “crack.” That’s likely why a major study found that 76 percent of network intrusions (breaches) in 2012 involved weak or stolen passwords.   A fix may be easier than you might think. For starters, head to Intel’s Password Grader to see just how easily cracked your current password is.

Once attackers have your password, they have access to your account and any information stored in it. From there, they may be able to do all sorts of things, and what was intended as a form of protection could become a threat in itself. For example, if you use the same password across multiple sites, once an attacker has compromised your information on an unimportant one, they can turn around and use it on a site you do care about.

Or say you use different passwords, but the same security questions. They could find the information for your security questions and then set up a fake “change password” request using your information and actually lock you out of an important account.

Bottom line: passwords are an important security measure for every aspect of your life, the key is to make them workable for you yet extremely difficult for offenders to crack.

How can you protect yourself?

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk and increase the protection offered by passwords.

Tips for passwords to protect your security

What NOT to do when creating online passwords