I have met some friends and some people who complained that their online account/s had been hacked.
How did this happen?
While passwords are a vital component of an account or system security, they can be cracked or broken relatively easily. Cyber criminals will try figuring or breaking passwords in order to gain unauthorized entrance to a system or a personal account. Passwords can be cracked in a variety of different ways. The most simple is the use of a word list or dictionary program to break the password by brute force.
For many people like us, the internet is a part of our daily activities. We use the internet in watching news, videos, listen to the music, use as references for homework, maps & commonly use when looking for a job, sharing thoughts and pictures on social media, and more importantly an easy way of doing online financial transactions like banking. Most of these activities require our personal information inputs which make us vulnerable to identity theft if the password being created is weak. When you create a weak password, it will be easy for cyber criminals to steal your passwords and thus may lead to cyber identity theft.
Why is it important to know about identity theft? Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. It’s a serious crime that can wreak havoc with your finances, credit history, and reputation — and can take time, money, and patience to resolve.
Below are some helpful tips to create a strong password
Do not use common passwords
- Choose passwords which are not easy to guess.
- No dictionary words, proper nouns, or foreign words.
- Do not use passwords that can be found in the dictionary. If you use numbers or letters in the order they appear on the alphabet or keyboard (“1234″ or “qwerty”), it’s not a strong password
- Do not use the name of your relatives, your kids, or your pet, favorite team, or city of your birth, as passwords
- Do not use your birthday, anniversary, date of graduation, even your car license plate number, because it’s not a strong password. It doesn’t matter if you follow this with another number, cyber criminals will try to check these kinds of passwords first.
Avoid using the same password across multiple websites and services
- Use different passwords everywhere. This means that when you create an email password it should be different from your social media account/web accounts like facebook, twitter, yelp, myspace, friendster, amazon, walmart, bestbuy & etc. It should not be the same as your financial account passwords.
Every account or service should have a different strong password, why? Because if you use same password for all of your social media, banking & any other online accounts and your password gets cracked once, it means the cyber criminal with that info now has access to all of your online accounts
Choose / Create a Strong Password
You can spell the words backward
Use numbers as substitute to certain letters
Add some special character
You may randomly change some small letters to capital letters
Create an acronym from an easy-to-remember piece of information. Pick a phrase that is meaningful to you like “My son’s birthday is 12 December, 2004” (Msbi12Dec4)
Make a long password because the longer a password, the more difficult it is to crack. It is generally recommended that passwords be between six and nine characters. You may combine the tips above in making a long password
Use a password manager
If you have doubts or you don’t trust yourself in creating a strong password, then you can look for a password manager or password generator tool online. Password managers generate strong unique passwords for each of your accounts/services and then store them in an encrypted database which you can unlock with one, good master password. Be sure to shop around before getting one.
Changing and Storing password
- Passwords should be changed on a regular basis in order to ensure its ongoing effectiveness. How often should you change your passwords depends on how sensitive the resource you are trying to protect. Just use a good judgment and don’t be lazy.
- Don’t let anybody watch while changing passwords and writing it down
- If you keep a copy or a writing of your password, make sure you keep it where you can easily remember and no one else knows.
Some things are easier said than done. Creating a long and powerful password may not be as easy as some people think especially when it comes the effort one has to exert each time it needs to be changed. Most people may not be able to memorize it and could easily forget. But it is important to keep in mind that it is worth doing it than exerting more effort in reporting and fixing your identity because it is stolen.