When the worst (or most guessable) passwords for 2016 were compiled from data breaches in the past year, the results tended to confirm what we have found in many cases – that many people are still using passwords that are so easy to guess that they are a hackers dream.
You can have the best antivirus protection in the world, but using an easy password means that you are just allowing people access as if you had just left your password on a post-it note stuck on the computer (and we’ve seen that too!).
You won’t need 3 guesses what the top two most common passwords are – 123456 and password – are you using one of them?
The Top Ten most used passwords
The top ten as compiled are: –
Is yours one of these, or a combination such as password1?
Other research shows that key combinations are becoming a favourite, such as zaq11qaz and other keys taken from patterns on your keyboard. The problem is that if someone wants to try to get into your computer, it isn’t just a question of some person guessing all the possibilities and typing them in – there are programs built specifically to try password combinations much faster than a human being can do, when typing in details.
These programs are designed to target all the common passwords first, such as names and, of course, the likes of password and 123456. They go through more and more possible combinations, knowing that most people tend to take a less complicated approach to their passwords and as such they may strike lucky.
How can you make your passwords harder
There was a time when the general approach was to have a minimum of 8 characters in your password, using letters and numbers. The advice now is to have a minimum of 12 characters (although 16 characters is becoming more popular), again with a combination of letters and numbers but also using capitals and where possible, using special characters such as @ and ! However some websites do not allow the use of special characters, in which case you would need to stick to the alphanumeric method.
Make your passwords impenetrable but memorable
If you have a secure password such as hGu7vyXakeTgo034 it can hardly be classed as memorable and with good reason. So the ‘sweet spot’ is to have a password that is just as complicated, but is one which you can recall without too much trouble.
We recommend a phrase that you can easily recall but substituting letters with numbers, capitals and if possible, special characters, such as wEd0coMPu73rR3P@irs – a version of “wedocomputerrepairs” – just come up with a phrase that means something to you but which you can change enough to be effective.
There are also paid and free password manager programs that you can use, which encrypt and remember passwords for you, but make sure that you use a reputable program, so research such as program reviews is important.
Also, as we have advised previously, try not to re-use passwords if at all possible.
It’s easier than you think to make it harder for your password to be compromised, yet many people do not take this important step. The fact is that you need a good password every bit as much as you need protection from viruses and malware – they are both important.
If you would like advice on securing your computer, give us a call on 01455 209505.