Why Use a Secure Password
Passwords are a necessity of life. Every website, service and app requires one. Most people have user accounts on tens to hundreds of sites. Although it is tempting to use a single password across sites it is a bad idea. Some of the biggest websites and services have been hacked and user information stolen (Yahoo 500 million users). Hackers can use this combined with social media data to hack into other services. It isn’t high tech or difficult. The information is readily available.
Why Use a Different Password on Each Site
Websites such as Have I been pwned? collect hacked information and let you search to see if your data has been compromised. When I searched I found my personal email address listed in three of the major hacks. If the password I used on any of these services had been used on other services, those services would be vulnerable.
What do Hackers do With my Personal Information
Hackers search the stolen information looking for login details, personal information and credit card details. Often this information is packaged and sold to other hackers. Accounts linked to companies and government agencies are the most lucrative. Credit card information is sold off in batches to professional thieves called ‘carders’. This data can be passed around for months (or years) before the hack has been identified.
What is an Insecure Password
Hackers use advanced and readily available software to hack accounts. They do not need to be a programmer or technical to use this software. The software can use stolen passwords or try different word and number combinations to brute force crack passwords.
The weakest passwords are simple word and number combinations. Names, dates, birthdays and personal information should not be used in passwords. Easy to remember passwords are also easy to hack.
What is a Secure Password
A secure password is eight characters or more, includes at least one uppercase, lowercase, number and special character (!?)(*&^% etc). Secure passwords are used on a single site or service. Unfortunately the stronger a password the harder to remember. The best passwords are randomly generated. You can generate a random password here.
Password managers solve many of the issues associated with generating and saving passwords. A single strong password can be used as a master password. Using this password, as many secure passwords can be generated and saved as necessary.
Although passwords managers have the ability to improve your online security they are not without faults. If you forget your master password, or it is compromised, all your accounts could be lost or become vulnerable. You are relying on the security and integrity of the service provider.
Even considering these negative points password managers are worth using and will improve your online security. I’ve been using Lastpass for years to manage my creative web design and development studio in Sydney without any issues and could not imaging going back to trying to remember passwords. I also use it to store notes and other information that needs to be secure.
Weak passwords are the easiest way for hackers to compromise your accounts. If they get into you main email account they can then easily compromise your other accounts. With all the information available on the internet via social media they can make educated guesses or use info they find in previous mass compromises. You need to take passwords seriously. Preferably random and different for every single service you use. Rotating passwords periodically is also a good idea. Password managers make this process much simpler and more secure.