The use of strong passwords can slow or often defeat hackers. It is very common for users to choose easy to remember passwords such as their birthday, their mothers maiden name, or the name of a pet, child or relative. Even more frightening, people still think that ‘password’ or ‘secret’ are good choices, or leaving passwords on a sticker on their computer.
Easy to guess or uncomplex passwords are a huge threat making it quite simple for hackers to get in by guessing repeatedly using online automated programmes. Even more sophisticated than this is what is known as a brute force attack where an automated programme is used to generate values for all possible passwords and compares them to the values in the password file.
All of the above attack methods can be slowed down significantly or even prevented through the use of very strong passwords. Therefore it is imperative to create strong passwords for all of your computer accounts.
But why does it matter ?
Take your email password for example. If this is hacked and someone can login as you, they can potentially and much more easily commit fraud by requesting money from your contacts or acquiring logins to your banking or other sites you have logins to, perhaps shopping sites, etc. And if they click on ‘Forgotten my password’ on any site you have an account with, the ‘Reset password’ is sent to your email, therefore the potential is huge. Worst of all if they can gather enough information about you and commit identity fraud. So it is very serious. At the very least they will use your account to send millions of spam out and your account or server will get blacklisted. But there are even worse potential consequences as outlined here.
Here some tips on creating a strong password:
- Don’t include your name, user name or elements of the username.
- Avoid dictionary words
- Create a password at least 8 characters long or more
- Use a range of characters including a mix of uppercase and lowercase, numbers and special characters (e.g. ! * $ etc)
This online tool gives an estimate of how quickly (or not) your password could be guessed with automated hacking tools, why not give your password a test or use it to come up with a new one. Click on the image to test out your password.