passwords

Passwords And Security!

Passwords, especially those not supported by two-step verification are your last lines of defense against malicious attempts. This post will help you to understand how those passwords are exposed, and what you can do to keep them safe.

How is your password exposed?

Before we dive into the how-tos of creating secure passwords, it’s important to understand why you need a password to begin with. After all who would want to hack your accounts anyway, right?

There are a few ways your account passwords can be compromised.

Someone’s out to get you

There are many people who might want to take a peek into your personal life. If these people know you well, they might be able to guess your e-mail password and use password recovery options to access your other accounts.

You get a brute-force attack

Whether a hacker attempts to access a group of user accounts or just yours, brute-force attacks are THE strategy for cracking passwords. These attacks work by systematically checking all possible passphrases until the correct one is found. If the guy already has an idea of the used password, then this process becomes easier for him.

A data breach

Every few months it seems another huge company reports an attack resulting in millions of people’s account information being compromised.

What’s a good password?

Although data breaches are out of your control, it’s still important to create passwords that can withstand brute-force attacks and relentless frenemies. Avoiding both types of attacks is dependent on the complexity of your password.

Ideally, each of your passwords would be at least 16 characters, and contain a combination of numbers, symbols, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and spaces. The password would be free of repetition, dictionary words, usernames, pronouns, IDs, and any other predefined number or letter sequences.

I know I know creating such a password is a massive drag. How can we be expected to remember a 16 character password for each of your accounts? That’s where many people turn to password managers like LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password.

Creating secure passwords

Use a password generator. They come in the form of offline programs and Web sites. Many password managers like LastPass or Dashlane also have built in password generator tools.

Microsoft offers its own online strength checker, and says that the form is completely secure (debateable). Mac users can use the built-in Password Assistant to check their passwords security.

Two-step-verification

Any time a service offers “two-step verification,” use it. When enabled, signing in will require you to also enter in a code that’s sent as a text message to your phone. Meaning, a hacker who isn’t in possession of your phone won’t be able to sign in, even if they know your password.

You only have to do this once for “recognized” computers and devices.

Using a password manager

Password managers keep all of your passwords for you and fill out your log-in forms so that you don’t have to memorize any of them. If you want supersecure passwords for your online accounts (obviously you do!), but you don’t want to memorize them all then this is the way.

There are many options but those three are the most used. LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password. All of those password managers work the same way. There is a desktop program (or mobile app), which you’ll use to manage the passwords. Then, there’s a browser extension that automatically logs you into accounts as you browse the Web.

Important! Just like any software, password managers are vulnerable to security breaches. In 2011, LastPass experienced a security breach, but users with strong master passwords were not affected but always keep this in mind!

Hope this helps you out and thanks for reading.

P.S. If you liked this post then you’ll like my books as well. You can get them on Amazon.

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