Passwords, in my humble opinion, can be be summed up in one phrase: a necessary evil.
Without passwords all of our accounts would be inevitably vulnerable to hackers and criminals alike. But when we sit down to password-protect our accounts, computers and phones, are we really picking them wisely? Let’s take a look at some common mistakes that are made when choosing and using those passwords.
1) Too simple – There are things in our lives that we should want to keep simple. Our taxes, our love lives, our to-do-lists, but when it comes to our passwords we should be aiming for complexity. A password that is too simple is an open invitation to be hacked. It should go without saying that your password should not be the same as or similar to any on the following list.
2) Writing them down – With so many devices and accounts being accessed each day it can be confusing to remember all the passwords we’ve made. You might think it is a good idea to have a list of passwords jotted down just in case you forget, right? Wrong! Leaving a list of passwords right next to your computer is dangerous and leaves your accounts unprotected. A password is only good if it is kept secret.
Although if you really feel the need to write them down, remember to keep the list in a safe place that only you can access. If you need to keep a list temporarily while you memorize new passwords make sure you destroy the list once it is no longer needed.
3) Using your birthday – It might be easier to remember a password if it’s something that you don’t need to think twice about to remember. On the flip side using your birthday, or any other information about you that can be easily found out, as a password can be dangerous.
Social media has led to lots of information about us being readily available to others online who friend us or follow us. When you use information such as the date of your birthday, anniversary or even your child’s birthday it can be easy to forget that all these dates can be out on social media sites. It is better to use something that only you would know and that you won’t ever accidentally post onto social media sites.
4) Keeping it the same – As hard as this is to hear, it is not a good idea to use the same password for all of your accounts. It might seem like a good idea because then you don’t have to memorize several passwords, which will save you from mistakenly writing them down, but in all reality it’s something you should avoid.
The danger is that someone may figure out your password and suddenly have access to all your devices and accounts. It is best to have three to four passwords that you can choose from to use on your accounts. It might seem like a pain to have to memorize these but it will save you in the end.
5) T00 short – I’m sure you’re familiar with the warning that pops up when you’re trying to create a password, “Sorry your password must be at least eight characters in length.” Now before you begin cursing the computer, remember that this is a warning designed to help you.
A good password should be at least eight characters in length. It is common sense that a shorter password, especially if it is only letters, will be easier to guess. The longer your password is the less chance there is of a hacker being able to guess or crack your password.