Password Strength: Why You Must Stop Neglecting It
We tend to ignore the strength of our digital passwords more than we would like to admit. In order to simplify our lives, you choose to use poorly-thought passwords that are easy to remember. With so many accounts for a plethora of services available online, choosing complex passwords for every single of those accounts would be too difficult indeed, right?
With the intention of making our lives easier, we expose ourselves to big trouble. Users who haven’t suffered any cybercrime experiences in the past aren’t conscious enough of their consequences in the real world. They don’t only represent the risk of financial loss but also the theft of highly sensitive information, including our identity.
This same confident user is the one who underestimates what cybercriminals can do these days. Needless to say, this quickly becomes a serious problem in our society, which integrates itself more and more to a globalized digital environment where we all upload sensitive information.
What is Password Strength?
In very simple terms, password strength is a measure used in cybersecurity to determine how effective a chosen password could be to prevent attacks from cybercriminals.
Indeed, passwords aren’t the most complex and innovative form of cybersecurity. In fact, they greatly depend on the user to do their job. Users who pay little attention and aren’t willing to choose a decent password are putting themselves at risk and there is nothing the password itself can do.
The higher the strength of the password, the more difficult for attackers to hit the right combination of characters, numbers, and symbols.
Cybercriminals use guessing and brute-force attacks to get into password-protected accounts online. Guessing is enough when users choose their passwords based on information that is relatively public. Typical mistakes consist in using birthday dates, first and last names, locations, brands, and academic information.
Healthy Habits in Password Security
As a recurrent user of the Internet, you should adopt healthy habits when it comes to choosing passwords for your online accounts and devices.
The first thing to have in mind is to include characters, numbers, and symbols in the combination. The longer the password, the better. Of course, passwords should be long enough. Any password under 10 characters may be considered short under current standards in cybersecurity.
Another good habit to adopt is avoiding using the same passwords for multiple accounts. For example, do not use your Gmail password for your social media profiles. Using the same account would make too easy a considerable security breach among your properties.
Finally, don’t write your passwords down on paper. Sometimes, cybersecurity starts with being cautious in real life. Getting physical documents lost or stolen is quite common, especially in businesses where there are other priorities going on.
When it comes to business, there is a usual error that many companies make frequently. When an employee resigns or gets fired, he or she is leaving several passwords unattended, from her company-owned devices such as smartphones and laptops to accounts as email addresses and those belonging to contracted digital services.
It’s key for businesses to create a procedure where all passwords get changed in the very moment the employee leaves the company (or before, in conflictive cases). Not doing this becomes a serious liability for businesses as sensitive information falls in the hands of someone who isn’t part of the company anymore.