Cyber crime is a major concern right now, as it costs the global economy over $445 billion worth of damages every year. Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce your chance of being a victim, and one is to ensure that your online passwords are strong. Here’s what you should know before you come up with your next online password.
Use a Long Password
Many forms require passwords of eight characters or more, but that’s just the minimum. If you really want to feel safe, make sure your password is at least 12 characters. In fact, some experts recommend that you make it 16 or more characters, as having a long password could be more important than having a complex one if you want to reduce the odds of someone finding out what it is.
Don’t Use Words from the Dictionary
If you can find your entire password in a dictionary—even one in another language—it’s too easy for hackers to guess. After all, they can always stage a brute attack in which they use an algorithm that goes through all the words in the dictionary until they land on your password. So even choosing a unique word or a word in another language won’t help. Instead, make sure you use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Space Out Special Characters
Now you know it’s important to make sure your password includes special characters, such as symbols, numbers and capital letters. But when you add these to your password, don’t just put them all together. It’s common to capitalize the first letter and then add symbols or numbers at the end. But you should intersperse them throughout instead, with a few in the middle and the rest at the beginning or end, as this will make your password harder for hackers to guess.
Make It Memorable
Though your password should be long and complex, it should also be something you will remember. The easiest way to do this is to make it personal to you, such as a reference to something that only makes sense to you, not hackers. For example, a combination of your first pet’s name and the age you were when you got that first pet. A hacker wouldn’t guess these answers because they’re not public information, which is why you should avoid using your birthrate, address, or full name in your password. These facts are surprisingly easy to gather about anyone, while unusual information—such as a word related to your favorite childhood memory—isn’t as easy to access.
Don’t Use the Same Password Everywhere
It’s tempting to keep it simple by using the same password on every site. But the problem is if hackers figure it out on one site, they suddenly have access to all the sites you’re on. So, maybe you’re not concerned when your password to your junk email account is hacked, but you should be if you use the same password for online banking. This is another reason it’s good to think of passwords you’ll remember, since you should have more than one.