Two of the most common mistakes made by computer users, in terms of securing their online accounts: using weak passwords, and using the same password for many different logins. I really hate to harp on this incessantly, but it really is important.
With the password situation, we have conflicting ideals: Everyone wants to be completely secure, but everyone also wants what is most convenient.
Out of the desire for convenience, many people just use the same password (or the same 2 or 3 passwords) for all of their online sites. And even those are simple passwords, ones that are easily cracked. But it sure is convenient!
On the other hand, if you want security, you have to use a password that is not pronounceable, and consists of upper and lower case letters, some numbers, and maybe even a character or symbol or two. And the longer the better – at least 8-10 digits, preferably more. Of course you won’t be able to remember it, but it sure is secure!
Not long ago I wrote about the password management program called LastPass – it will remember your passwords for you so you can use secure ones without having to commit them to memory.
The big question – how secure are your passwords?
Would you like to know how secure the passwords are that you are currently using for various sites? With the help of an online password checker, you can.
There are actual several sites that check this, but the one I like is actually run by Microsoft. You can find it here.
Using it is easy – just type in one of the passwords that you use, and see how it rates it. For this example, I entered the password: forecast89
As you can see, it rated it as “Weak”. That’s because it uses a common dictionary word, no upper case letters, and there are no special characters.
Now, I’ll try a different one. This one was actually generated by the LastPass password generator tool: M4nf7@YCB8ya
Look at that – even a crazy one like that doesn’t earn the highest rating. Still, “Strong” is pretty good and would be a vast improvement over most of the ones in use today. To get the highest strength rating, you could just make one like this but make it longer.
So, next time you are thinking about what to use for a password – don’t use one you have used before, and make sure it’s a strong one. There could come a day when it gets tested!