Most hacked routers are attacked because of bad passwords. To celebrate Safer Internet Day on February 9, we bring you this guest blog post from Sticky Password about managing your passwords.
Are passwords a hurdle to you when you’re online? Does your pulse go up at the very thought of having to create and remember another password, or do you have peace of mind knowing that each of your accounts is protected by a unique and strong password?
All too often, we find that people who don’t have a systematic approach to passwords think of their own passwords as a hurdle to doing what they want to do online – and not as the key to the lock that keeps others out.
Thinking of passwords as the keys for our accounts is helpful, but for most us, that’s where the analogy ends. Just like a key, a password is supposed to “let me in.” We don’t think twice about adding another key to our collection when it comes to new keys for a new car, or to the apartment or house when we move, but we hate the idea of having another password.
Whatever your relationship with passwords, it’s just about impossible to avoid them in today’s 24/7 online world.
The fact that you’re reading this suggests that you are aware of the importance of security and want to do something about it. Kudos to you! With that in mind, here are 3 things to help you get over your password hurdle:
1. Passwords aren’t supposed to be easy to remember.
That may sound weird, but – in terms of security – if you can remember ALL your passwords they probably aren’t protecting you. (Of course, this memory problem doesn’t apply to everyone around the world – just 99 percent of us.) It’s the elements we use to make passwords easy to remember that also make them easy to crack. These are dictionary words, nicknames and popular bits like 1234567, qwerty, starwars, 111111, password, princess, etc.
The bad guys have a lot of experience, as well as lists of overused but easy-to-remember password variations, they use to hack accounts. You may think that you’ve created the perfect password by going all the way to 9 (123456789), but hackers have seen it all before and they’ll strike gold when they try the right combination on your account. Hackability nullifies any convenience factor of you being able to remember it.
If you create each new password with the premise that you have to remember it, then you are stacking the odds in the bad guys’ favor.
2. When it comes to passwords, time is not your friend.
Think about the last time you needed to create a new password. You’re on a website to check something out, or to buy something, or maybe you wanted to add something incredibly funny to a comment thread and – all of a sudden! – a dreaded prompt to create an account with a password comes up.
Your mind is focused on what YOU WANTED to do, but first, you have to stop and REFOCUS on security. That’s not a good situation.
You want to buy some cool five toe socks, BUT you’re interrupted and need to think of a password to protect your personal data. Naturally, you feel that you’re under time pressure. You want to get back to what you were doing, and so you quickly come up with a password that you’ll remember – at least for the next 20 seconds. (You may even be telling yourself that you’ll be back to create a stronger one later, but then life gets in the way of your good intentions…) Typically, the result is that you enter something that’s utterly hackable: you get a weak password.
If you create each new password under the gun of the clock – imagined or real – you are playing into the hands of the bad guys.
3. Imitation is not a good feature in a password.
A recent study of top 5 security practices by security experts revealed that unique passwords for their accounts ranked second only to ‘installing software updates’ on their PC and devices.
Way too often, well-intentioned folks will tell me that they’ve come up with the perfect password: long and strong, and they can remember it. Maybe it’s a jumble of words; maybe it’s a full sentence with a few numbers and some extra punctuation added.
But then they tell me that they use the one super password for all of their accounts. Argh!
The problem with using the same password for multiple accounts is that if one of the accounts gets hacked (through no fault of yours), the other accounts are in jeopardy.
The same survey reveals that 73 percent of the security experts used a password manager vs. only 24 percent of non-experts. (The survey doesn’t give us the percentage of which group experienced more hacks, but I wouldn’t bet against the experts.)
A password manager will help you safely clear your password hurdles. So, take your time to create that one perfect password for your master password, and let your password manager remember all of the unique passwords that it will create for all of your accounts.
About the author
Sticky Password is the award-winning password manager and form-filler that remembers your passwords and enters them automatically whenever and wherever you need them.