If you’ve been using the same old passwords since you first set up your online accounts back in the 90s now could be a very good time to make some simple changes. It’s the annual World Password Day today and although it’s not the most exciting of events it’s a good reminder for us all to check how easy our codes are to crack. Despite endless warnings from security experts, it seems millions of us continue to make very simple errors when it comes to online safety including writing things down on paper and using passwords that are easy peasy to crack.
Codes such as “123456”, “qwerty” and “password” remain hugely popular as they are simple to remember but that also makes them a target for cyber thieves.
Another mistake many of us make is using a password that includes personal information such as birth dates or the name of a pet as this can make it simple to hack. According to a recent survey by Uswitch around 30 percent of us are doing exactly that and it could be putting many at risk.
Here’s a list of the most popular passwords complied by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and if you use any of these for your accounts then it’s a good idea to change them immediately.
TOP 10 WORST PASSWORDS
1 – 123456
2 – 123456789
3 – qwerty
4 – password
5 – 1111111
6 – 12345678
7 – abc123
8 – 1234567
9 – password1
10 – 12345
If you’re worried about your passwords then there’s plenty of advice to help get your accounts more secure. The security team at Check Point have released some really useful tips which are definitely worth following.
Here are their top tips to help you stay safe online:
• Use a combination of characters: Having a password that is made up of simple phrases or of dates significant to the user’s personal life is very common practice. However, this habit seriously weakens a password as information such as birthdays can be easily found out by cybercriminals. Always use a random sequence made up of a combination of different numbers, letters, and symbols for each platform.
• A different password for everything: With so many apps and services now requiring log in details, it’s tempting to repeat the same single password for all of them, but this is a bad idea. Just as we do not have the same key to open our home, office, or car we shouldn’t use the same password as this only makes it easier for hackers to “open” our entire digital life. If you find that it is difficult to remember them all, you can always employ the help of a password manager to help manage and generate different robust access codes.
• The longer, the stronger: It’s true that the longer a combination is, the harder it is to remember. But it is one of the best ways to keep information safe so make sure to use at least 8 digits to tighten up security levels.
• Make regular changes: Changing your password regularly may seem like an almost impossible challenge. However, this can be made easier by using the same basic pattern and adding different combinations from there. This way, it will be easier to remember and easier to change regularly.
• The two-factor authentication is your best friend: While taking all the above measures will certainly improve the effectiveness of a password, it is also essential to implement a two-factor authentication. This is because new threats are constantly surfacing, therefore to ensure you’re completely protected being made aware every time an attacker or unauthorized person wants to access your account will only improve your security.
“Every day, cybercriminals attempt to steal the passwords of hundreds of users, utilising techniques such as phishing emails to enable them to breach thousands of services and to steal credentials,” said Deryck Mitchelson, Field CISO at Check Point.
“While the methods continue to change, and the threats continue to evolve, there are still ways we can keep our data protected. By using World Password Day, as an opportunity to reevaluate the strength of our passwords and to bolster up our cybersecurity efforts, individuals can deter cybercriminals from getting access to their information and their devices.”