Password protection is one of those things that is so important and yet people need to be reminded of this constantly. Year after year, people create very easy to remember passwords that can be cracked within seconds. But the worse thing is they use these as a means to protect their most sensitive information.
At this point, changing your password to something harder is good, but it would be better to go a step further and make a password that’s totally unhackable – or at the very least a pain for hackers to crack it. To reach that point, consider the following tips.
Avoid The Common Passwords
I’m talking about the passwords that are “password”, “12345”, “qwerty” and others of that nature. But I’m also talking about the other simple passwords like:
- Your birthday.
- Your pet or child’s name.
- Your street address.
- Your phone number.
Using passwords that are personally identifiable isn’t clever as these can be easily cracked by hackers running a Google search on you or looking at your social media posts. That or they could be phished with ease with the hacker posing as a neighbour, an acquaintance, work colleague, or an official.
Avoid Spelled Words
Hackers also have access to tools that allow them to try a process called “brute force dictionary attacks”. As the name suggests, these attacks are cracking passwords by using words you’d find in the dictionary. Through these attacks, hackers go through hundreds of thousands of passwords within a matter of minutes.
In short, if your password is something that’s in the dictionary, then your password is not safe.
This also applies if you add numbers to that password too or replace letters with numbers (like replacing the letter s with a 5 or e with 3.) These systems have thought of everything and will even try those iterations too.
Avoid Letter-By-Letter Passwords
A stronger password is using a combination of letters and numbers. With that in mind, people gravitate towards a sequence of letters that are easy for them to memorize. This results in people’s passwords being things like “aab”, “aac”, “aa1” and so on.
The problem with this strategy is that that same attack I mentioned above does make these attempts too. So stringing a 12 character long letter-by-letter password isn’t going to cut it either.
Do Use Different Passwords
In order to make passwords harder to crack, it’s important you use many different passwords to leave hackers guessing. Of course, it’s going to be tough to memorize every single password you come up with which is why getting a password storage tool will be effective.
Password storage tools store passwords for you and keeps them locked in a vault that can only be accessed by a Master Password that’s encrypted.
Hackers will have a tough time breaking into that Master Password and so a nice layer to that is ensuring you’re using different passwords for everything you log into. This ensures that if a hacker ever somehow cracks a password for one site, they don’t have access to everything else.
Do Use Advanced Leetspeak
Leetspeak is a form of writing where you’re using letters in word and are replaced with numerical likeness or other letters to create identical or similar sounds. I mentioned this briefly with people replacing e’s with 3’s or s’s with 5’s.
While there are other examples of this, I would encourage you to try something I call advanced leetspeak.
The idea s to incorporate 2 characters to represent a single letter. It can also entails the use of uncommon symbols to replace letters as well. Some examples of this are:
- F can be I= or even !=
- H can be || or |-|
- B can be lo
The possibilities are endless with what you can be doing with this.
Make Unique Passwords Through Phrases
Paired with leetspeak, you can get away with using that technique to create a sentence that is memorable to you. For example, if you really like flowers a password sentence can be “I plant lots of flowers on…” and insert the platform’s name you’re logging into.
For example, if you post flower pics on Instagram the sentence would be “I plant lots of flowers on Instagram”
In leetspeak it would be “!p1@nt|0t50!=!=|0w3r50nIn5t@gr@m”
Looks like a complex jumbled mess right? Well you could simplify it a bit here and there but you get the idea of how a phrase can look like a jumbled mess of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Or Look To Password Managers
Of course the unique passwords using leetspeak is one method but not every person is going to remember these or be bothered to do that. Again, what makes our lives so much easier is using password managers.
Not only do password managers only need you to memorize one password at all times, these tools often generate their own passwords for you.
These passwords are often very strong and are an even more jumbled mess than the leetspeak password I mentioned above.
Overall, there are all kinds of methods to generate better passwords but if you’re someone who wants to set it and forget it, having a password generator do the heavy lifting for you is better. Just make sure that the Master Password you are using isn’t an easy to crack password.