The average person has about 23 different online accounts for which they use passwords. And once you incorporate the accounts they sign into for work, that’s a huge number of logins to keep up with every week.
Many people fall back on the habit of using a small list of rotating passwords for everything, but this makes it easier for hackers to get into multiple accounts after stealing just a single password.
How prevalent is password theft when it comes to cybercrime?
81% of hacking related data breaches are due to weak or stolen passwords. (Trace)
When we’re assisting clients with business and residential virus removal in Framingham, Natick, Sudbury, Wayland, Wellsley, Ashland and surrounding Metrowest area, a key culprit that we find responsible for a breach is a weak password.
Users try to keep their passwords easy to remember because it can be like getting a papercut when you’re trying to get into a website and you’ve forgotten it. Not all sites make it easy to go through password recovery.
But if you don’t use password best practices, which include strong and hard-to-hack passwords, you can leave yourself at risk of some of the following:
Bank account hack
Someone impersonating you on Facebook or other social media
Hack of your iTunes or Google Play account
Breach of your business network and customer data
Stolen credit and debit card details
Spyware, ransomware or other dangerous malware
Hacking into a home security system or baby monitor
Remote use of your computer in a coordinated cyber attack
Password Best Practices You’ll Want to Start Using
Our team at Pro Tech Guy are experts at troubleshooting computer and IT issues of all kinds, which is why we can often identify a breached password as the source of a malware or virus intrusion or just a case of a system “acting funny.” Our IT services are far from limited… it’s our goal to be your “go to” IT guru for any and all tech needs.
Here are some of the password best practices that we teach our home and business clients to use to stay safe and greatly decrease their chance of a data breach.
Make a list of “Don’t Use” Passwords
Before you start exploring how to build strong passwords, it’s good to know which ones are the easiest to hack that you should stay away from. Most of us know not to use “password” for a login password, but there are plenty of others that are just as easy for hackers to guess.
Some of the easiest to hack passwords are:
password (or password1)
welcome (or welcome1)
Use at Least 7 to 10 Characters
It may be annoying when you are setting up a new password and the system tells you it’s too short, but it’s just trying to protect you. The longer your password, the harder it is to hack.
Use a Password Phrase
An easy way to create a long password that is still memorable is to use a phrase that is not too common, rather than just a single word as your password. Such as: “todaymy5blueumbrellasareneeded”
Use a Combination of Letters/Symbols/Numbers
This can be another stuck point when you’re setting up a new password because the more secure a system is the better chance it’s going to require a combination of letters (both lower and upper case), symbols and numbers. This practice helps ensure your password is strong and much harder to guess than one that includes letters only.
Don’t Use the Same Password for Everything
It’s easy to fall into the habit of using one password, or a group of 3 to 4 rotating passwords, to log into multiple sites and applications. This is a dangerous practice because once a hacker gains just one of your passwords, they’re going to bet you’re using it other places (like Paypal or iTunes) and will try it to hack into multiple other logins.
Use a Reliable Password Management Application
If you’re like most of us, after reading thus far in the password security list, you’re probably thinking, “How I am supposed to remember all those different strong passwords?” The answer is a password management application. These applications give you a master password to use to login to the system, then the app can generate and store for use unique and strong passwords for everything.
Change Your Passwords from Time to Time
Have you been using the same password to login to your online banking for four or five years? It’s probably a good idea to change it. Changing passwords regularly, such as once or twice a year, helps them stay confidential and can thwart a hacker that may silently be in your system without you knowing it.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
A practice that significantly improves login security is using two-factor authentication along with your login. Many providers offer this like Google, PayPal, Office365, and others. Once enabled, when you enter your username/password, you’ll be sent a text (or email) with a time-sensitive code to enter to complete the login.
Get an IT Security Checkup from Pro Tech Guy
How secure are your devices and wireless network? Pro Tech Guy can come and take a look at your system and help you implement security best practices to keep your personal or business data safe.
Don’t leave yourself open to hackers! Give us a call today to get started at 508-364-8189 or reach out online.