We hate to break it to you, but your password security habits have been weighed and found wanting. No, don’t give us that look—you know deep down in your vastly unsecured inner thoughts that it’s true. It seems that almost every day we’re hearing of another major security breach. If you haven’t been affected yet, you’re either very lucky or very lax about checking in on your security and just haven’t realized it yet. Password security becomes more important with each passing day, and we’re here to help. We’ve put together several tips and tricks to help you secure your accounts against a future hack.
Why Password Security Is so Important
If someone gets ahold of your Netflix password, well, Netflix doesn’t overly care and you might not either unless you have a carefully curated algorithm going. So why should you care about password security? Think outside of your binge-watching habits for a moment.
Are you an admin at your company? If your password is simple, then you’re putting the entire company at risk. Or in the case of one Twitter staffer in 2009, your weak password compromises several prominent accounts on the platform.
A classic and simple program run overnight allowed one hacker access to an admin Twitter account with the ability to change every user’s password. The hacker then reset and distributed passwords for popular accounts managed by Barack Obama, Britney Spears, and Fox News to other hackers. On Twitter’s end, this was possible because their security didn’t throttle invalid password attempts on their accounts. This is why if you have administrative access at your company, it’s particularly important to follow smart password procedures.
Maybe you work at a company that handles social security numbers, and your lax password protocols factored into one of the worst cybersecurity attacks this century.
Or let’s say you work for the federal government, and despite the high security clearance you have, you still have your dog’s name as your password. Pretend Jason Bourne movies are real for a second and think about what could happen.
Or maybe you’re the world’s richest man and your intimate phone conversations fall victim to tabloid extortion. You see where we’re going with this. Password security is important. And not just for VIPs, either. How many smart devices do you have? The Internet of Things is growing (200 billion connected devices by 2020) and so are the risks with it. The Atlantic even set up a hacker honeypot, thinking it would take days if not weeks for a hacker to bite. It took 41 minutes. Getting hacked—anyone getting hacked—is an inevitability, not a possibility.
It’s the same with online security and hackers. When we make stronger passwords, hackers write better algorithms. We have to play a constant game of cat and mouse to keep ourselves protected online. Gone are the days of using “password” or “Fluffy12.”
At least one capital letter and number? We’re way past that.
We’ve entered an age of passwords so complicated we can’t possibly remember the random conglomeration of letters and symbols and phrases for each of our accounts.
Enter convoluted passphrases and password managers. Popular Mechanics explains the ups and downs of password managers—and why you should still definitely use them.