Do you use “123456” as your password for any websites? How about “qwerty”? Maybe 123456789?
If you do, you’re not alone. In fact, nearly 1,000,000 people use those passwords.
But there’s a problem.
Each of those can be cracked in less than a millisecond, leaving you and your personal information exposed to data thieves.
So what can you do to stay more secure, but still be able to remember your passwords?
Don’t Reuse Passwords
Using the same one or two passwords for everything drastically reduces your personal security. Obvious, right?
Maybe, but that doesn’t stop over 80% of people from reusing passwords. Instead, use a unique password for each website you visit.
Most people can’t remember that many passwords, so I recommend using a password management service like LastPass to safely store your passwords for you. It can even generate passwords that are practically impossible for computers to guess.
Use Longer Passwords
Hackers don’t type in passwords one at a time. Instead, they often get millions of them at once from data breaches. They target the short passwords first and, with enough passwords to compare, they’re able to decrypt thousands of them in just a couple of hours.
If your password is 8 characters or longer, however, there’s a good chance it will be overlooked.
Hackers don’t want your password: they want as many as they can get in the shortest time possible.
Assuming it is not a common password such as “password123,” each additional character over eight could potentially add days, months, years, or even decades to the time it would take an algorithm to crack, making your password very unappealing to hackers.
I suggest using passwords with at least 10 characters to keep yourself off hackers’ radar.
Use Sentences as Passwords
Which is easier to remember: “Tl|_|,BwwB2R” or “My favorite kind of pie is chocolate!”?
The latter, of course.
However, you don’t want to use real words, as they are easily cracked.
Instead, use only the letters from your sentence as a password.
In this instance, “My favorite kind of pie is chocolate!” turns into “Mfkopic!.”
If you’re feeling clever, you could even change “pie” to “3.14” (pi = 3.14, in math terms), then the “1” to a “!”. This leaves you with “Mfko3.!4ic!” – a password which cannot be easily guessed and would take 200 million years to crack.
As long as you avoid using common words or phrases, this simple technique will keep you much more secure than most complex, hard to remember passwords.
Remember: a password that is hard for you to remember is not always hard for a computer to guess.
Here are some resources to help you create strong passwords, along with some cool facts and information:
Helpful graph for remembering long passwords (Stanford Password Policy):
6 techniques for creating stronger passwords:
Most commonly used passwords of 2016:
Common passwords, plus helpful tips and tricks to keep yourself safe: