I bet I can guess your online password. Is it….1,2,3,4,5,6? Or simply ‘password’? Don’t be surprised that I guessed it because according to a survey those are the top two passwords in use today. Here are the top ten:
With so many people using such simple passwords is it any wonder that our credit cards or other records are so easily hacked? We constantly read of those with malicious intent hacking into accounts and gaining sensitive information they can immediately use or leverage into higher access. There are a number of ways to thwart their activity, some costly and others more time consuming, but the best and easiest way is to simply ‘harden’ your password. By harden I mean make it more difficult for ‘bad actors’ to figure out what it is and gain entry to your personal accounts and information.
The best way is to follow the simple 8-4 rule. That means make your password 8 characters long (more is better) and use the four available keyboard options in the 8 characters. The four options are lower case letters such as f or j or b, upper case letters such as A or K or M, numerals such as 1 or 4 or 7, and special characters such as ? or $ or &. An effective password might then be something like ‘B8k&y@D9’ or ‘<#7gKb8$.
Do not use:
common words such as ‘BobApple’ or ‘MarysMac’
common phrases such as ‘1Lov3Y@u
your social security number
Why not use your birthday? The simple answer to that is that it is probably right there online for everyone to see…on Facebook or LinkedIn. You want all your friends to say Happy Birthday to you on your special day so you post your DOB. The problem is, your friends aren’t the only ones to see it. Those with malicious intent are clever people who will also see it and make the connection between your name and your DOB password. Or…your home address such as 221bBaker or your telephone number. Don’t put your personal information online, but if you insist on doing that, please don’t use that information in your passwords! Finally, do not use the same password in more than one place…make each password unique and change them regularly.
No cyber security system is perfect, even the White House was hacked last week, but if you harden your password and make it difficult for hackers, they will move on to an easier target….like the #11 most common password that your next door neighbor might have…123123