Passwords are a crucial aspect of digital security, and following best practices can help protect your sensitive information online. Each aspect of password security is important because it plays a role in protecting your digital accounts and sensitive information from various threats and attacks. The following are some recommendations for improving your password strength.
Longer passwords provide more possible combinations for attackers to guess. This makes it exponentially harder for them to crack through brute force attacks, where they try every possible combination of characters.
Longer passwords are generally more secure and are harder for attackers to guess through brute force methods. Aim for a minimum of 12-16 characters.
Consider Using a Password Manager
Password managers can help you generate, store, and autofill complex passwords for different accounts. They can also provide added security features and help to reduce the burden of memorizing them while promoting strong, unique passwords for each account.
Monitor Account Activity
Keep an eye on your accounts for any suspicious activity. Many services provide notifications for login attempts from unfamiliar locations or devices. Regularly checking your accounts for unusual activity can help you detect unauthorized access early and take appropriate action to protect your accounts.
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
MFA adds an extra layer of security. Even if an attacker manages to obtain your password, they won't be able to access your account without the second authentication factor (e.g., a temporary code sent to your phone).
Passphrases provide both length and complexity while being easier to remember than random character strings. They strike a balance between security and usability. Consider using passphrases or sentences that are easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. As an example, "BlueSky$RainyDay#2023" is a strong passphrase.
Avoid Personal Information
Personal information, such as your name or birthdate, can be easily guessed or discovered through social engineering. Avoiding such information in your passwords reduces the likelihood of successful attacks. Additionally, stay away from using the name of the website or service as part of your password.
Change Passwords Regularly
Regularly changing passwords can help mitigate the risk of unauthorized access in case a password is compromised. However, this practice is most effective when combined with other security measures. It's a good practice to change your passwords periodically, especially for sensitive accounts like email and banking. However, if you use strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts and employ multi-factor authentication, changing passwords too frequently may not be necessary.
- Unique Passwords
Reusing passwords across multiple accounts is risky because if one account is compromised, the attacker gains access to other accounts as well. Using unique passwords for each account limits the potential damage of a security breach. Be sure to use different passwords for different accounts and services. Consider using a password manager to generate and store unique, complex passwords for each of your accounts.
Avoid Common Passwords
Cybercriminals often use lists of common passwords and phrases to try and gain unauthorized access to accounts. Avoiding such passwords reduces the risk of easy, automated attacks. Do not use easily guessable passwords such as "password," "123456," "admin," or common phrases. Avoid using dictionary words or easily accessible information. Take a look at the Top 200 Most Common Passwords List for 2022 (link to https://nordpass.com/most-common-passwords-list/). If you see yours on that list, it should be changed immediately.
Using a mix of characters (uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols) increases the number of potential combinations, making the password more resistant to dictionary attacks and automated password-cracking software. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays, names, or common words.
Overall, password security is a critical aspect of online safety because passwords are often the first line of defense against unauthorized access. Employing these best practices collectively helps create robust barriers against a wide range of cyber threats, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of your personal and sensitive data.