We’ve all done it, entered in a password to a new website and up comes the message “Sorry this password is not secure, please use at least 1 upper case letter and number”. It’s frustrating, because the odds of you remembering it when you go to use it again are slim if it’s full of capitals, symbols and numbers. It might seem annoying, but there is method behind it. Obviously the main reason to have secure passwords is so that no one else can guess them. It is becoming more and more common to hear of peoples’ online accounts or bank accounts becoming compromised due to weak passwords or something that can be easily guessed. Year on year surveys are carried out on the most commonly used passwords, and the top 2 are consistently “123456” and “password”. Old addresses and pets names are also commonly used.
How can someone get hold of passwords?
Online scams like Facebook quizzes ask you seemingly innocent things like the name of your first pet, or name of the road you first lived. But as we mentioned above the answer to these questions are most often used as a password, so there are lots of cases where scammers have been able to hack someone’s account from one of these types of quiz. There is also phishing which hackers use to try and gain access to your online accounts. The way it works is they would send you an email designed to look like it has come from your bank for example. The email might be informing you that you need to log in to secure your account, so you click the link and it will also take you to a website designed to look like your bank. When you log in the hackers then have your login information, which they can then use to actually log in to your real bank account. These types of scam are very dangerous, which is why you should be cautious when logging in to services online and always make sure you are using the correct website.
Keeping passwords secure
It is a good idea to use a different password for everything as if someone guesses one they potentially have access to all of your online life. It is estimated that around 60% of people use the same password for everything. The most simple way of keeping passwords secure is just to remember them, but that can be hard if you use a different password for each account as advised. Services like Last pass, or the Chrome web browser to store your passwords can be a good solution. If you are logged in on multiple devices it allows you to use your passwords anywhere. Google Chrome will even notify you if one of your passwords has been compromised.
Another good solution is to enable 2-factor authentication if a website offers it. That way when you log in it will send you an email or SMS with an temporary code to enter on the site before logging in, so it adds an extra layer of security on top of the standard username and password.
Overall, passwords are probably one of the most important things you need to access services online, as without them you can’t get very far into online accounts so it’s really important that you take them seriously and make secure/strong passwords and store them somewhere safe.