Personal data has been in the news a lot lately, with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) across Europe, and the revelation that 87 million Facebook users had their personal details used without their knowledge. We all know how vital it is to keep our data safe, yet studies show that far too many of us don’t take our passwords seriously enough.
According to TIME magazine, in the most popular passwords of 2017, an unbelievable 150,000 people in America alone thought 123456 was a strong and secure password. This was run close, in 2nd place, by the word password, with qwerty in 4th, letmein in 7th and Iloveyou in 10th place. These might be easy to remember, and quick to type, but for all the security they provide, you may as well not have a password at all.
Protect Your Password
Even if you have a strong password, there are many ways that you can put your security at risk. For example, Symantec found that over a third of people never get around to changing the default password on their internet router, and few people change any of their passwords on a regular basis.
More worryingly, most people only have two or three passwords, despite owning multiple devices and endless online accounts. You should have separate passwords for everything, especially where your money is at risk, such as your online bank account log in or your online poker using cryptocurrency. Otherwise, it means that if thieves get a hold of something as innocent as your Netflix login, they could also get their hands on your money with the same details.
While trustno1 may be the 25th most popular password, it seems that we are far too quick to trust almost anyone online, revealing personal details to a quiz to find out which Disney character we are most like or which vegetable we would be. If you have used those personal details to construct your passwords, then you are asking to be hacked.
How to Create a Strong Password
Many people fail at passwords because they want something that is easy to remember. In fact, it’s easy to create a strong password, which is also memorable by chopping and changing letters and numbers in a phrase that you know but no one else does. Longer, alphanumeric passwords are hard to guess because there are so many possible combinations.
For example, 1Lik3M4y0na1se is strong, yet easy to recall for a fan of the essential burger condiment, and you can apply the same strategy to almost any phrase. You should make the sentence personal, but not traceable, avoiding any information about you that is in the public domain. Myd0gisc4lled5hep is strong, but chances are you’ve talked about Shep on social media. Using something more obscure like 5heplike5C3ntral4ark, will make your password much harder to guess.
At the end of the day, we all need to work harder on our passwords because you can be sure that the hackers are working even harder to find ways to crack them. So, remember, avoid the obvious, make it complex yet memorable, use a variety of different passwords and change them regularly. It may not guarantee your safety, but like most thieves, hackers are opportunists, so if you make it harder to access your account, chances are they will move on to someone who thinks pa55w0rd is safe and secure.