How safe are your passwords? They may be easy to remember, but are they easy to crack? If you’re making any of these common password mistakes, your password may be at risk.
- Making Your Passwords Personal
When looking for a memorable password, you may be tempted to use your birthdate, address, or a pet’s name. Or maybe a favorite film or the title of your favorite song.
Passwords derived from personal data aren’t a good idea. Some of your personal data may be available online with a quick Google search. Or else it may be displayed on your social media pages.
This type of data is also easier to guess for the people around you, further increasing risks.
- Using Simple or Common Words or Phrases
Hackers often use attack dictionaries that include commonly used phrases or words. Some of these dictionaries can crack even creative word combinations.
If your password is made from a combination of two or more words found in the dictionary, it’s not the safest. Even if you get creative and choose seemingly unrelated words like “concretepie” or “rooftopelephant” you’ll still be at risk.
Today, computers are getting better and better at processing language and understanding natural speech. This means that lexical passwords are simply not safe anymore.
Always ask yourself, “How secure is my password?” Even better, use a password analyzer to check.
- Basing Your Password on a Name
Even when you don’t feel like coming up with a new password, a website or app may ask you for one. If you’re not feeling particularly creative, you may just end up picking a nickname or some other name.
Passwords including names of any kind, whether personal or generic, like “admin” are weak and easy to guess. They are some of the first that attackers may target because of their high prevalence.
When you’re out of inspiration, it’s better to use a combination of letters and numbers. It doesn’t have to be random if you won’t remember it. But it has to be complex.
- Choosing Easy to Type Passwords
Another category of vulnerable passwords is those which are simple to guess and quick to type. Think “admin1234”, “12121212”, or “1q2w3e4r”.
Be especially careful of picking simple to guess passwords when you combine letters and numbers. The result may be an easy-to-type password that could compromise your account.
Complex passwords like “a3H281nJfeE2” aren’t easy to remember, and the brain doesn’t like them much. But they’re a lot safer.
- Making It Less Than 8 Characters
Short passwords are easy to crack, even if they include combinations of words and letters. At the very least, you want to use 8 characters.
This is, in fact, the minimum required by most websites and apps. Don’t be afraid to go beyond that with at least 2 more characters.
Sticking to letters or numbers only leads to a weaker password because of the more limited combinations possible. Mix the two, and don’t be afraid of adding other characters. You’ll make your passwords a lot tougher.
- Using the Same Password Everywhere
Even if your one password is great, using it everywhere could compromise all your accounts. Attackers today will often target multiple accounts online. The more information they know or can glean about you online, the more accounts they can target.
You just don’t want to use one password everywhere. Diversify your passwords as much as possible. Pay extra attention to financial accounts, email, and social media accounts, and gaming accounts, which are common targets.
- Using the Same Old Password
You may like your old passwords. They may feel like part of your identity, especially if you’ve been using them for years. But even if they haven’t caused you any problems so far, consider updating them.
Attackers usually need time to crack passwords unless these are obvious. If you regularly change your passwords—say every few months—you’ll make their life a lot harder.
- Sharing Your Passwords
“Sharing is caring” is one saying that is applicable in many other areas of life but you cannot share your password with anyone out there. Around 43% of people have admitted to having shared their password at least once with somebody in their life. Bear in mind , when you share a password with anyone, chances are that they will share it with somebody else. Around half of them are often reported to have shared the password with more people.
While password sharing is mainstream, it is a dangerous choice to make. Once you share your password with somebody else, the security of your account will be compromised. Even if you change it, the other person will ask you for it again. Especially if you’ve shared the password with your friend or a relative, they will eventually start hovering over your head all the time. Secondly, once you share your password, you never know how the other people handle it. Therefore, it is recommended that you never share your password with anyone. Today, one of the leading reasons why people are struggling with several issues is because they end up sharing their password, which is wrong.
Try to keep your personal information discreet and never share it with anyone, even if you have known them for a long time. Once you register the purchase, try to keep it discreet as much as you can.
Extra Warning: Leaving Your Passwords Where They’re Easy to Find
Having to write your passwords down to remember them increases the chances that they’ll be discovered. Are you in the habit of writing them in documents stored on your devices or on post-it notes at work?
The real problem here is that you have to write them down in the first place. The best passwords are not only powerful but also memorable so that you can’t forget them.
The bottom line: choose unique, memorable passwords that you don’t have to write down. Ask yourself often, “How secure is my password?” If you can’t answer “Very secure!”, update it. Your online security is worth a bit of password work, right