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The Number One Reason Your Passwords Will Fail You

By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars

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How often do you change your passwords? Better yet, how often do you reuse the same password across platforms? Cybersecurity experts continually identify the use of strong, unique passwords as one of their top recommendations. However, this is also one of the least commonly followed recommendations because it can be difficult to remember strong, unique passwords for every login and website. In fact, roughly 72% of people say that they use the same passwords across platforms and 48% say that when prompted to change an old password, they do so with a minor change.

WHY YOUR PASSWORD IS IMPORTANT
There are several reasons that strong, unique passwords are important to your cybersecurity, the first being that malicious cyber threat actors compromise online accounts and post lists of usernames, email addresses and passwords online. This exposes your login credentials and identifies the user through their email address.

Other accounts, such as work-related, personal social media or banking accounts that are associated with that email address may be leaked for malicious actors to find. When the cyber hacker finds those accounts, they can try logging in with the compromised password and if the password is reused, gain access. This is why it’s essential to have unique passwords across multiple platforms.

HOW TO CREATE A STRONG PASSWORD
A strong password consists of at least 10 characters and includes a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. A unique password is only used with one account.

When malicious cyber threat actors can’t easily find or guess the password, they use a technique called brute-forcing. This is where they test every password combination until the correct password is identified. Computers can try thousands of passwords per second, but this technique only works if the password is easy to identify.

The stronger the password is, the less likely brute-forcing will be successful. When malicious actors use brute-forcing techniques, they often try every word in the dictionary with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

USE A PASSWORD MANAGER
Consider using a password manager, which is an application that can run on a computer, smartphone or in the cloud that securely tracks and stores passwords. Most password managers can also generate strong, unique and random passwords for each account. As long as the password to access the password manager is strong, this technique can be effective.

However, if the password manager company is cloud-based, this could lead to vulnerability if their software is compromised. In that case, it’s possible that all of your passwords could be leaked. Additionally, if you choose a password that is local to your computer or smartphone, your passwords may be at risk if your phone or computer gets a virus. When choosing a password manager, ensure it’s trustworthy and has a good reputation.

CHOOSE A REPEATABLE PATTERN
Another technique in building a safe password is to choose a repeatable pattern, such as choosing a sentence that incorporates something significant about the website or account and then using the first letter of each word as your password. For example, “This is my May password for my LinkedIn” would become “TimMpfmL.” This password capitalizes letters and includes punctuation which makes for a strong, unique password. The vulnerability in this technique is that if multiple passwords from the same user are exposed, it may reveal the pattern.

PASSWORD SAFETY MEASURES
Passwords are undoubtedly essential to security, but they aren’t the only method that can be used to protect one's computers and devices. In addition to creating a good password, you should learn how to safeguard it and use it wisely. This means never sharing it and if you’re unable to remember it, keep the written copy in a secure location. Secure passwords are critical when it comes to preventing unauthorized access to one's computer and mobile devices.

In today's world, hackers and other cyber-criminals are continuously finding new ways to gain access to these devices in order to steal or exploit the information within. Careless use of passwords, however, can be as bad as leaving one's computing devices unprotected. For this reason, you should create strong and unique passwords and protect them with care.

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