By Edwin Alvarado
Online users are often at risk of having their data exposed because they commit common password mistakes. Since passwords aren’t going away any time soon we compiled a list of common mistakes to avoid to help keep your data more secure.
Password Mistake #1: Using the same password for multiple accounts
It is tempting to use the same password for all of your accounts. We get it, it’s easy. We used to do it too. BUT that puts all of your accounts at risk. If someone finds out that one password, they will be able to access any of your accounts and it is more than likely that you will not find out until it’s too late. For this reason, Cybersecurity experts highly recommend that you DO NOT use the same password for multiple accounts and as do we.
Password Mistake #2: Varying passwords with a single character
People make this mistake when changing their passwords or creating a new account. They will use the same password they have always used and only change a single character when creating a password for a new account or changing their passwords. While this can be convenient, it puts your accounts at risk. If someone gets access to one of your accounts they can run that password through variations that include one character changed. Always keep your passwords as unique and complex as possible.
Password Mistake #3: Using personal information in passwords
Do not use the names of siblings, relatives, pets, sports teams, celebrities, etc. in your passwords. Password thieves use software that attempt password combinations using everyday terms when trying to access accounts. Also, if anyone knows you well and wants to access your accounts all they have to do is try the names of people you love, teams you cheer for or phrases you often say. This doesn’t just apply to people you know, social media has made it extremely easy for anyone to gather information on you such as family names and interests. A secure password should be a combination of random letters, numbers and special characters.
Password Mistake #4: Using passwords that are too short
In the early days of the internet, a password that was 6 characters long was considered secure. Now, with the advancement of computer technology a password of that character length is not considered secure. A password that is too short can be susceptible to brute force attacks and can be easily guessed. Cybersecurity experts recommend that a password should have a minimum length of twelve characters.
Password Mistake #5: Using recognizable keystroke patterns
“2wsx3edc” looks like a complex password, right? Until you browse your keyboard and discover the pattern is easy to find. It’s the same issues with “qwerty” and more. If you are using a “random” sequence of letters and numbers, make sure they are actually random if you want to keep them secure.
Password Mistake #6: Substituting numbers for letters
There was a time when substituting numbers for letters in passwords was considered smart. For example, instead of “cringe” a user would make their password “cr1nge.” This method is no longer recommended or considered safe because passwords using these techniques are easy to guess.
So, how can you avoid these common password mistakes?
- Use a unique password for every account that you have.
- Use a mix of case-sensitive letters, symbols, and numbers.
- Don’t use names, places or common phrases.
- Create passwords longer than 12 characters.
- Avoid using obvious keystroke patterns.