A 2019 Google/Harris poll found that 75% of Americans feel frustrated when it comes to keeping track of their passwords. And they combat this frustration with poor password practices, making them extremely vulnerable to highly-motivated hackers. Only 34% of people change their passwords regularly, and 24% use an easily guessable phrase such as “password” or “123456.”
It’s no wonder that 81% of the total number of data breaches happen because of stolen or weak passwords, according to a 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are three simple ways you can keep your passwords safe and save yourself the stress of being hacked.
1. Use a password manager.
The easiest way to maintain password integrity is by using a password manager. This is especially important if you work in an industry with highly sensitive information, such as healthcare or finance.
There are several password manager applications you can choose from. These can be used individually for home computers or for office networks. If you do choose to use one of these tools for work-related passwords, just make sure it’s been properly vetted and approved by your employer’s IT department.
Using browser-based password managers such as Google Chrome’s is not recommended. Anytime you’re searching the internet you could be exposing yourself to risky websites. If a hacker gains access to your Google settings, they could easily steal all of your passwords.
2. Use a password generator.
Let’s face it. As humans, we’re just not as adept at creating hard-to-guess passwords as computers are. We tend to use common phrases or favorite sports teams or children’s names and birthdays.
Hackers have extensive lists of these most commonly-used phrases and can easily get hints and clues about you on social media that make it easy to guess your passwords.
There are many reputable password generators you can choose from, and many of the password management tools described above also provide password generation services.
3. Make it a habit to change your password on a regular basis.
We know, we know. Changing your password is a hassle. Especially when you feel like you have a hundred different passwords to remember.
Hackers are counting on your reluctance. The longer you go without changing your password, the higher the chances of that password being compromised. Cyber criminals have highly sophisticated programs that are constantly running random attempts to guess your password. By changing it on a regular basis - and not just adding a number (i.e., password1, password2, password3, etc.) - you reduce the chances that your password is matched.
Tools such as password managers and generators make it easy for you to change your passwords regularly, and harder for hackers to figure it out.
Over 1 million passwords are stolen each week. Don’t let yours be one of them. Get serious about password security. Or get ready to deal with the costly aftermath of a successful hacking attempt.