When it comes to creating a new password, simple memory cues and meaningful numbers and phrases just don't cut it anymore. With passwords like 123456, password, qwerty, and welcome being some of the top used ones in 2018, it's obvious that not everyone is aware of the potential threat an easily breakable password poses.
However, it's not only easy passwords you should stray from - even complex passwords have their own vulnerabilities. There is the possibility that a password may be so complex that you will have trouble remembering it. With 2019 underway, now is a great time to get a kickstart on your New Year by updating your passwords. Below are four tips to help you create a secure and easy-to-remember password.
Don't Reuse Passwords
Though it sounds convenient, try to not reuse a password for multiple accounts. If a hacker is able to guess it once, they'll have access to all your information across multiple platforms. In the 2017 Yahoo! Breach, 1 billion user accounts were hacked, and some of their information was leaked online. If an individual used the same password for their Yahoo! Account as they did for others, millions of people now have access to their secure and personal information across multiple platforms and sites.
If you currently use a tried and true password, try to add a unique identifier to it for each platform you use it on. Randomly adding in a ‘WS' to your workstation password differentiates it from all your others. Similarly, if you have a personal Gmail account, adding a ‘PG' or a unique identifier to the password ensures that if a hacker compromises it, they won't have access to any of your other ones. If you already use a password that has numbers and letters strewn about, the random extra characters will help deter hackers from guessing which ones are being repeated in your other passwords.
Use a Password Manager
With all the new passwords you'll be drafting up, you'll want to keep them somewhere secure for reference. A notebook or post-it won't cut it anymore. Though you might trust everyone around you who would have access to those accounts or passwords, it should still be kept in a secure place and only shared if absolutely necessary with someone trusted.
There is a plethora of password managers currently available for you to use that can store all your information securely, organize it for you, and even rate your password strength and suggest improvements for you. Make sure that your password manager is encrypted, and if possible, requires two-factor authentication before accessing it. Since there are multiple services available and each individual and organization has different needs, you can find 10 of the top password managers rated by PC Mag here. If you're looking for something simple and free, then here are your best options for 2019, also rated by PC Mag.
Create a Random Password
Many individuals tend to avoid random and nonsensical passwords. However, the more random and nonsensical a password is, the more secure it will be. The best part about creating a nonsense password is that it doesn't have to be nonsense at all - it just has to appear that way.
To create something that you'll easily remember, think of some of your favorite things. For example, if we take three favorite stores (Walmart, Home Depot & Kohl's) we can create something unique from this: WalHDKoh.
To make it even more secure, you can add a symbol or number between each separate phrase like this: Wal!HD-Koh6. To a hacker, this would probably appear as nonsense, but you will always remember your three favorite things. If you combine them into a password that you can remember, you will have developed something secure and strong enough to keep you safe.
Following the aforementioned ban of reusing passwords, if you want to use this password for your Netflix let's say, throw in an ‘N' randomly to discern it from others. Don't be afraid of switching up the format as well. Take one phrase and flip it backwards; laW!HD-hoK6 is another variant that would meet most minimum password requirements.
Don't Use Personal Information
A good password should also stray from using or revealing any personal information about the user. Google advises its users to avoid personal information such as nicknames, important dates, and other identifiers unique to you. These are often some of the easiest things to remember and are used in many users' passwords.
A password like this may seem secure to you as this information is typically only applicable to you. However, hackers tend to be adept at what they do and have probably already obtained information about you that you don't want shared. Using your nickname or a birthday will be one of the first things a hacker will try to attempt when gaining access to your information.
Avoid using numbers that also give away information that is used in another aspect of your life. Do not use your PIN to unlock your phone or in any of your passwords. The 4- to 6-digit sequence can easily be compromised and a hacker could potentially gain access to financial information easily.
Following these four tips should be the beginning of your quest in choosing new and more secure passwords in the New Year. Secure passwords will not only protect yourself but will also protect those around you who may share information across a network or server.
Should you need any further assistance in cybersecurity or want to protect yourself or your organization further, Stratosphere Networks can make the process easier for you. With our in-depth knowledge and continual research on current trends and threats, we provide our clients with the most up-to-date and secure resources available. We aim to further streamline and improve your cybersecurity needs with our personalized recommendations and solutions. Contact us today to learn more.