You’ve probably all heard in the news over the past year or so about the sites which have been hacked and passwords have been leaked, sites such as Spotify, LinkedIn and several dating sites have all made the news over this in recent times. It is happening more and more often and therefore it is imperative more than ever that you keep your passwords secure and if you are a member of any site which gets hacked, make sure you change your password next time you log in.
One thing that became apparent from some of these leaks, were the amount of people who have very simple passwords, out of the millions of password which were leaked from a linkedin hack in 2012, 750,000 of them were “123456”, a further 150,000 were “password”. Other common passwords in the top 20 (check yours isn’t here), included the following:
There’s one major problem with these, they are ridiculously easy to hack! Hackers would be able to crack these passwords in less than a second! The same could be said for any word which could be found in the dictionary. One form of attack hackers may use is called a ‘dictionary attack’, where they develop software which tries to match passwords against every word found in the dictionary from a-z. This literally takes milliseconds to do.
There are some tips you can look into to make sure your passwords are not easily hacked:
- If you are going to use words in your passwords, don’t leave all the letters in the same case. Change some letters to capitals, change some to numbers and add some special characters such as £$% in too. A simple example would be “Pa$5w0rd!” (don’t use this, but you get the idea).
- Don’t use the same password for every site you log into, for example, if you log into facebook with an email address and one password, and you use the same for your email, Amazon and your bank, then if the hackers get one, they will get all of them! You could make a small modification to your password for each site you log into, taking the above example, you might have “Pa$5w0rd_Fb” for facebook and “aZ-Pa$5w0rd” for amazon.
- Preferably, don’t use words, maybe take a phrase or your favourite song lyric, take the first letters of each word then follow the same pattern as mentioned above.
- Maybe, you can make shapes on the keyboard for ways to choose a secure password, make a ‘V’ or ‘W’ shape starting from the top eg. “!QazSe4”
- Find a random picture on google images, think of 3 words which you can associate with it, then link these words together and use the same patterns as mentioned earlier.
- Try not to use your kids names or important dates (such as Birthdays) or anything else which other people may know about you.
- If you need to write your passwords down, don’t put them on a post-it note attached to your computer screen
- If you can, change them regularly too, especially sites which you use often. Maybe change them once a year, just to ensure you are one step ahead of the bad guys.
All you can do is try to ensure your accounts and also your kids pages are secure, knowing you are doing all you can to protect your information. Passwords protect all your sensitive information online, make sure you prioritise making them unique and memorable to you but difficult for anyone to hack.