The plethora of Internet services available makes it everyday more important to secure our personal and business information online. Still, many people use very simple passwords that are very easily cracked by people with bad intentions. So here are some little tips to make your online services accounts more secure.
Multiple encryption is coming little by little to the Internet, yet most online services still use the simple identification through pseudo and password. After the recent NSA scandal and “Heartbleed” security bug, let’s try to improve your approach to online security.
Avoid the obvious passwords
Any hacker with a decent password cracking software can quickly go through easy passwords, yet there are some passwords that are so common that anyone can break into your account, without even using any software.
Here is the list of the 25 most used passwords in 2014 from SplashData, if you see a password you use, keep on reading, this article is for you.
Creating a strong password
Many services suggest that we use not only numbers and letters, as well as lowercase, uppercase and special characters, with a minimum of eight or ten characters. Let’s see how this increases the work for a hacker trying to break our password.
All resides in a very simple numbering of possibilities: as software will have to try all combination, it will be easier for them to find a combination with less characters and a smaller number of characters to choose from. Here are some examples of passwords with the time needed to crack them by a standard computer studying various password properties. (source)
1. The complexity of your password improves the number of possibilities for a given number of characters = more time to crack your password:
- aseanup – 2 seconds
- AseanUP – 4 minutes
2. The length of a password improves a lot the time needed to crack it.
- aseanup – 2 seconds
- upaseanup – 22 minutes
3. Combining them both will make you create very strong passwords, but the password length is the most important:
- <3AseanUP – 1 year (9 characters)
- i<3Asean-UP – 50 000 years (11 characters)
- i<3Asean-UP!! – 465 000 000 years (13 characters)
Note that this evaluation is based on the number of calculations that a regular computer can do (4 billion/second), to make sure even bigger computers take too long to crack your password, try using at least 12 characters, including numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and special characters.
Securing multiple online accounts
It is very important not to use the same password for all your online accounts: if someone manage to obtain the password to one of your online he could potentially become the owner of all of your online life.
Therefore you need to have one password by service. There are some software to manage your online passwords so that you don’t have to remember them all, but that Password Manager will still require one password to remember, which can potentially be cracked or stolen together with all of your digital life.
One of the tricks to create and remember several strong passwords is to insert some variable characters that depend on the service used. Following with the example that we created, i<3Asean-UP!!, we could decide that instead of the dash between Asean and UP we’ll use the first 2 letters of the domain name of the service we want to secure.
- Facebook: i<3AseanfaUP!!
- Linkedin: i<3AseanliUP!!
- Twitter: i<3AseantwUP!!
Of course, you can choose anything else, the point is to have a strong, secure base in your password that you can remember once, and a variable part that you can easily recover from each service.
Now tell us about you, do you have any tricks to manage various passwords? have you ever been hacked? how did you solve your online security problems?