Password Security

Password Security

Last week we celebrated World Password Day. It may seem like a strange topic to celebrate but, in reality, the subject is paramount. A password, after all, is the key that unlocks many of life’s most private information. So, in honor of the international awareness day and the overall importance of the topic, we want to share some basics in all things password.

Did you know:
Despite how far we’ve come as humans we still have a very hard time choosing smart passwords. We usually place the risk of forgetting our password over the risk of someone hacking into the account. Not a good idea. What would you guess the top 10 passwords of 2015 were?
1. (you guessed it!) “12345”
2. “password”
3. “12345678” (tricky! 3 extra numbers this time)
4. “qwerty”
5. “123456”
6. “123456789”
7. “football”
8. “1234”
9. “1234567”
10. “baseball”
More often than not, computer hackers don’t rely on sophisticated algorithms to break into victims’ accounts; they usually just guess the password–and, based on the top passwords shown above, it really wouldn’t be that hard. So here are three ways to improve your online security and avoid looking as dweeb-ish as the fools who use the passwords displayed above.
1. One of our biggest problems is the fact that we call it a password. The name implies it will be a single word. Which, based on what we’ve already seen, people seem to be taking it literally. Instead, we should consider is a passphrase–a string  of words that mean something to you and will be easy for you to remember and hard for others to guess. For example, here’s a (random) phrase that comes to mind as I type this: “The man is in the kitchen.” Perfect. That could make a great passphrase. So now I need to take it a step further by adding some numbers and symbols in the mix. My new passphrase will be: TheM@n1s1nTheK1tchen. Here, I’ve kept the phrase the same but capitalized the first letter of each word, replaced the letter a with @, and replaced all the i’s with an exclamation point. It’s easy to remember (as it makes logical sense) but nearly impossible to guess.
2. Never use the same password for more than one account. Hackers find great success by simply cracking one set of your credentials so they use them on multiple sites. It’s especially imperative that you use unique credentials for particularly sensitive accounts (banks, credit cards, work, email, etc.) The main issue with using a password multiple times is that a hacker only need learn your password once and suddenly they have access to your entire world.
3. Don’t use objects, names, dates, or locations that are particularly associated with you. These are the types of passwords that are easiest to guess. For example if you got married to Mike in 2008 your password should not be Mike2008. Neither should your password be MrSnuggyBuns after your pet poodle named Mr. Snuggy Buns. And please, for Pete’s sake….don’t use your own birthday or social security number. These types of passwords are easy targets and get guessed pretty quickly.
Remember that in this modern age, our passwords are the gateway to a lot of what we have and are. Protect it like you would your children, your pet poodle, and your other tangible belongings. In addition to the three tips above, be sure to change your password every 90 days or so. It’s a good habit that will keep you on the up and up of password safety.
Above all, remember that Shred Northwest is here to help in all your information security needs. There’s a lot to think about and sometimes it’s better accomplished with some expertise to guide you along.

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