70% of Computer users have insecure passwords
Ryan Martin / 5 years ago
Research by web security company Smoothwall has revealed that 70% of people are at risk of having their personal information stolen because they use insecure passwords.The company studied the habits of more than 500 users and found that the majority of people use basic passwords that are easy for criminals or specialist software to crack. Plus more than half of people replicate their passwords for all their IT requirements.
Smoothwall has compiled a top 10 list of tips to create and remember passwords that are secure and unbreakable:-
- Passwords that are less than six characters are extremely vulnerable and quick to access.
- Don’t chose a random word from a dictionary, even if it’s from a foreign dictionary or spelt backwards, because software will easily crack it.
- Combine upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols which is known as ‘pseudo-random alpha-numeric combinations’ so instead of ‘football’ try ‘fooT8a1!’ which suddenly becomes much more difficult to work out.
- Whilst this type of password may be difficult to remember, you can create a similar password by choosing the first letters of a memorable sentence such as ‘My car is a Ford Mondeo and I live in Birmingham’ which ends up as ‘Mci4FM&Ili8’
- Using four random words together is another way to create secure passwords such as ‘wolfkitchenskycamera’
- Once you have a strong password, you can personalise it for individual uses by adding the first three letters of a website to it such as adding ‘hot’ to your hotmail password.
- Ideally you should change your password every couple of months although this can be complicated. However you can simplify it by only changing the character substitutions, alternating the upper and lower case letters or placing the three letters that identify the website in a different location.
- Choosing a password that you can type quickly will reduce the chances of someone being able to steal it by looking over your shoulder.
- If you find it impossible to remember all your passwords, rather than writing them down, subscribe to an online password manager which will store them securely for you.
- If you still want to use the same password for everything at least differentiate it for very important things such as online banking.
Simon Wilcox, Head of Marketing Operations at Smoothwall says: “Often passwords revolve around hobbies, dates of birth and family members’ or pets’ names so it can be easy for a determined person to crack a person’s password which in many cases will provide access to everything from email and social media profiles right through to banking and financial accounts.”
“Even if someone can’t guess a password the software that’s available to crack passwords is now so sophisticated that it can enter millions of popular password combinations and even substitute numbers for letters, spell words backwards and enter words from other languages.”
“However, the good news is there are ways to beat both the criminals and the specialist software. Choosing a secure password is a matter of creating unlikely letter and number combinations. The longer and more obscure your password, the tougher it will be to crack.”
He concluded: “One of the most vulnerable groups to password theft are children – because many have never been taught how to create and maintain passwords so we have produced a free information pack to help ICT teachers explain how to make and keep passwords secure – www.smoothwall.net/mypassword.”