April 24, 2018

The importance of long, strong and secure passwords

Hackers and identity thieves break into users’ computers and devices by guessing their passwords. Once they gain access to the device, they cause misery to the owners. Avoiding your devices becoming hacked requires the use of long, strong and secure passwords. However, why else are they important?

Victims of hacking often have their bank details, money, or even worse their identity, stolen. Hackers assume the identification of their victim by changing their passwords and taking over the devices including phones and laptops. Once this has occurred, hackers and unauthorised users could even use someone else’s identity to break the law and also put the victim in legal trouble.

Technology is causing more opportunities for hackers

The increased adoption of new technology like laptops, smartphones, mp3 players, tablets and computers has seen a surge in the way we interact, stream and share information online.

Any of these devices can connect with each other, access the internet, and store information online, including financial transactions, passwords and additional personal information. The only way to protect this valuable data from unauthorised use is by adding a password.

Users use passwords to authorise a particular use of a device or website. One device or site may have several users, each with their unique password.

Thus, a password that is tricky to figure out makes it prohibitively hard for hackers to break into a machine, and will (hopefully) force them to look for another target. The more complex the password, the lower the risk that one’s computer will fall victim to an unwanted hack.

Vital features when creating long, strong and secure passwords

To reduce the risk of a hacker guessing your password, take into account these features when creating your new password:

  • Crucially, passwords must be long and complex.
  • Long and complex passwords require extra effort and resources for a hacker to guess and thus will move on to easier targets.
  • Adding a combination of commas, parentheses, upper-case and lower-case letters, percent signs and characters significantly increases the passwords strength and lowers its ability to be cracked. Even better, try and make them at least ten-12 characters long.
  • We need so many passwords for numerous devices and websites that can be tempting to write some of them down or even store them in a file online. Both hard and soft copies of these passwords can be stolen and used by others.
  • Hackers love it when users have the same passwords for multiple devices, as once they break into one machine, they will try another with the same password. To avoid this occurring, never use the same password for two or more devices.

Securing your mobile devices

Rather than passwords, mobile devices require passcodes or a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Typically, PINs and passcodes have between four and six digits or characters – needless to say, the more, the better.

Passcodes and PINs have built-in time-out features – any inactivity over a certain amount of time will require the re-entering of the PIN or passcode. Always set your time-out periodsto less than 20 minutes, less is unmistakably better. Similarly, if a PIN or passcode is entered incorrectly after several attempts, the access is not only denied, but the code will require resetting.

Mobile devices also have temporary code generators features that can notify you via email or SMS and if your device is currently used in an unusual manner or a location not known to you – immediately change your codes.

Importance of a long, strong and secure password

With so many passwords required in our daily lives, users become frustrated about how many they need or fear they will forget them if they make them too complicated to remember.

Usually, a person will create a password based on something that is unique and memorable to them, like a favourite place, person or phrase they like to live by. One excellent alternative to continuing using more personal passwords is to replace a specific letter in the sentence with a number or symbol.

For example, the word “Sportsbet” contains ‘o’, and ‘e’ – these could be replaced with ‘0’ and ‘3’. Plus, you could add a # instead of a ‘p.’ By using this method, “Sportsbet” becomes “S#0rtsb3t”.

Password Security Measures

Whilst passwords, passcodes and PINs are vital for continued security when connecting devices online and using websites; there are other checks you can do:

  • As mentioned, never share your passwords and passcodes with anyone, even your spouse.
  • When browsing, only enter personal and financial details on websites that encrypted with SSL certificates. You will know when SSL Certificates have been installed on a site or browser by noticing ‘https’ (the ‘s’ stands for secure) and a padlock in the browser. Typically, SSL is used to protect login details, credit card transaction data and offer secure browsing on social media sites. You can read more about them here.
  • Ensuring your computer security software is updated and not expired if you have a free trial version.

Preventing hackers and unauthorised access to your computer and mobile devices requires strong, long and secure passwords, passcodes and PINs.

As more of our lives are kept online, new opportunities for hackers and other cyber-criminals are manifesting to obtain user data.

By avoiding creating lax and insecure passwords, users can add an extra layer of protection to their online presence. For this reason, people should better protect themselves by forming long and complex passwords.