How to Protect Yourself with Passwords

We have become a society whose entire public and private lives are solely protected by 8-10 characters. While we have biometric face scans, fingerprint readers, voice recognition, and all sorts of technology in our lives to keep us safe – passwords will always be the original classic. Passwords are the most common and simple security measure you can have, but they are often frustrating and not as protective as you think. As with everything in life, password protection really depends on how careful you are, and unfortunately many people do not take the precautions necessary to allow their passwords to work properly. In fact, the most common password is “123456,” and not just a few hundred people but 23 million people have that.

Some Bad Password Habits That Are Too Common

  1. Saving passwords to your browser: This is a common one and so easy to do once the pop-up shows up. Just click a button and you never have to remember that password again, but this is easily the first thing hackers try to get into. Once that password protection extension is found out, all your passwords are too.
  2. Using the same password across multiple accounts: This is another simple mistake people make. Hackers would just need to solve one password and they would have everything. Make sure your passwords all vary site to site. In fact, two-thirds of people use only one password for all their accounts. Nowadays, it’s hard to do anything without signing up first, so only having one password for all those hundreds of random accounts could easily get you in trouble.
  3. Using simple passwords/passwords of things close to you: Like we said earlier, the top 10 most common passwords really are ones with “1, 2, 3. . .” all the way to 10. Similar is using a pet’s name or your mother’s name as a password. Someone who is close to you – or even just browses your social media – could try these and get access.
  4. Having a master doc with the password: About 40% of organizations store private administration passwords in an Excel spreadsheet or Word document. Almost 28% of them either used a shared server or USB drive as well. A master document might seem helpful to having everything in one place. But just like the previous points – someone gets ahold of one, they get ahold of them all. Passwords for businesses are pure gold and should be treated as such. Never send out passwords and usernames in the same email or send them to someone outside the company. Don’t have one master list, don’t make your passwords easily guessable, and don’t make your password easy to find.
  5. Sharing your passwords: Does your best friend know your password? You mother or father? Almost 50% of people share their password with someone. As much as you trust someone, a password is yours and yours alone to keep private. The more people that know, the more at risk you will be.

Bad password protection habits have ease and convenience on their side, which is why the technology world is a hacker’s playground. While all those bad habits can be easily fixed by not sharing passwords and by not having only one password, here is one tip on making a strong and memorable password. Think of a sentence – one you will remember, possibly a quote – and then take the first letter and alternate uppercase and lowercase. For example, “We Are A Growth Engine” will be “WaAgE.” Then, all you must do is add a number or character in the middle and at the end (e.g., “W@AgE20”), and that is your new protective password. This password may be more tedious to type depending the length of the quote, but it is much more protective and harder to forget if it’s your favorite sentence.

We at Marketsmith find it important to keep our community educated on the outside threats and real-world efforts that are being made to gather, hack, and sniff our technological gold: passwords. Through being mindful and smart we can better assist ourselves and help our clients prepare themselves against those types of attacks.