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How Vulnerable Are All of Your Passwords to Attackers?

How Vulnerable Are All of Your Passwords to Attackers?
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By Susan Hoffman
Contributor, InCyberDefense

With all of the password-protected websites in use these days, creating attacker-resistant user accounts can be a hassle. For instance, organizations such as banks, credit unions, retailers, social media sites and entertainment websites such as Hulu or Netflix require you to log in with information such as an email address, phone number, username and password.

Many People Still Use Easy-to-Guess Passwords

Despite constant warnings from cybersecurity experts, some users still prefer a password that is easy to remember. Unfortunately, these passwords are just as easy for attackers to guess.

Security Magazine recently published a list of SplashData’s worst passwords of 2018. These passwords often include numbers or letters in sequential order, words that can be found in a dictionary, or personal names, such as:

  • 123456
  • password
  • 123456789
  • qwerty
  • welcome
  • admin
  • football
  • charlie
  • iloveyou
  • donald

For convenience, some people may even use the same log-in information for multiple websites. As a result, it becomes even easier for attackers to penetrate your accounts and cause financial damage.

Improving Your Password Protection

Decreasing the vulnerability of your passwords, however, doesn’t take much effort and can provide you with greater peace of mind. Wired magazine recommends the following steps for security improvement:

1) Use a password manager to create strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts.

2) Use a longer password of 12 to 15 characters, which is less vulnerable to a brute-force attack.

3) Use special characters, but space them out within your password. Avoid grouping special characters at the beginning or end of the password, because hackers often look for this feature in a password.

4) For frequently changed passwords, be sure to change the entire password, not just one character.

5) Never use the same password for different accounts.

6) Although your browser can remember a password, this option isn’t always secure. Instead, consider using a password manager such as Dashlane or Password Boss.

7) Consider using two-factor authentication.

Data breaches are constantly on the rise, especially at online retailers. Although creating stronger passwords for all of your user accounts can feel cumbersome and time-consuming, it is worth your time and effort.