A strong password is a title that keeps changing hands year after year, specially with the rapid advances in tech. In 2010, Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. announced the findings of a ZoneAlarm survey, revealing that 79% of consumers use risky password construction practices, such as including personal information and words.
26% of respondents confessed to reusing the same password for important accounts such as email, banking or shopping and social networking sites. In addition, as much as 8% admitted to copying an entire password found online in a listing of “good” passwords.
To ensure consumers stay safe online and enjoy this holiday season, here are a few tips for creating a strong password:
- Choose a password that is at least 8 to 10 characters long. This should be long enough to prevent brute force attacks. Since brute force attacks consist of trying every possible code, combination, or a password until the right one is found.
- Make sure your password is difficult for someone to guess. Do not use names of any kind, including your login name, family member’s name or a pet’s name. Also avoid using personal information such as a phone number, birthday or place of birth.
- Avoid words that can be found in the dictionary. With the availability of online dictionaries it is easy for someone to write a program to test all of the words until they find the right one.
- Stay away from repeated characters or easy to guess sequences. For example: 77777, 12345, or abcde.
- Choose a password that is a mixture of numbers, letters and special characters. The more complex and random it is the harder it will be for a malicious person to crack.
- Use fragments of words that will not be found in a dictionary. Break the word in half and put a special character in the middle.
- Choose different and unique passwords for all of the important sites.
- Change your passwords often. Even if someone cracks the system password file, the password they obtain is not likely to last long.
25 Worst Passwords in 2011
‘Password’ remained the most commonly used password by casual users unaware of the fact this is a very common and global choice, making it so easy for hackers to gain access to their digital life and wreck havoc to it.
In an effort to encourage adoption of stronger passwords, SplashData, an established provider of password software , released its “25 Worst Passwords of the Year” list for 2011. According to SplashData, the most common passwords on the web are:
This list was compiled from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers. If you are using any of the passwords in the list, you must change that immediately.
Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters
One way to create longer, more secure passwords that are easy to remember is to use short words with spaces or other characters separating them. For example, “eat cake at 8!” or “car_park_city?”
Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites
Especially risky is using the same password for entertainment sites that you do for online email, social networking, and financial services. Use different passwords for each new website or service you sign up for.