A strong password is crucial for safeguarding your online presence, protecting sensitive information, and reducing the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches. It enhances your overall security posture and helps maintain your privacy in an increasingly digital world.
According to Verizon's 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, 80% of data breaches are linked to passwords. Some of the more common ways data breaches occur include the following:
Brute force attacks
In a brute force attack, the attacker tries every possible combination of characters until they find the correct password. This can take a long time depending on the length and complexity of the password. However, it will eventually succeed if you have a weak password.
In a dictionary attack, the attacker uses a list of common words or phrases that are likely to be used as passwords. This can be faster than brute force attacks if the password is based on a word or phrase that is in the dictionary.
Credential stuffing occurs when an attacker leverages a database of compromised passwords obtained from previous data breaches and systematically tries them across various websites or applications. This approach proves particularly effective when you reuse passwords across multiple accounts.
In a phishing attack, the attacker sends an email or a message that looks legitimate. The message may prompt you to click on a link, redirect you to a fraudulent website, request your password, or suggest engaging in other actions that could compromise your sensitive information. In addition to tricking users into giving away their passwords, phishing attacks can also mislead people into installing malware.
Keylogging and spyware
Keylogging occurs when an attacker installs software on your device to secretly record every keystroke or monitor your online activity. It can capture your password when you type it in or visit a website. People often install this type of malware without even knowing it.
These common types of cyber attacks aren’t the only ones out there. To protect your business, brand, customers, clients, and yourself, having secure passwords is a must. Use a password generator tool to help you come up with complex passwords and a password manager to help you remember all your different passwords.
Besides, when it comes to setting up and marketing your business, incorporating robust security practices is crucial. Potential customers value a brand that prioritizes security. Additionally, your business may be obligated to comply with data protection laws that include password requirements.
How to generate a strong password
To generate strong passwords and strong password phrases, just look at what makes a strong password. Your passwords need to meet the criteria of length, complexity, unpredictability, and uniqueness.
Use sufficient length
A password of at least 12 characters makes it harder for an attacker to crack using brute force or dictionary attacks. A 12-character password takes 62 trillion times longer to crack than a six-character password.
Include a variety of characters
Every password should contain:
- Uppercase letters
- Lowercase letters
You can also use spaces, but they’re not always necessary or allowed by every platform.
No personal information
Avoid using any personal information in your password. Avoid using things like:
- Names of pets, celebrities, or brands
- Favorite items or activities
Personal information makes cracking passwords a lot easier, especially if the attacker can easily find that personal information from online social media profiles or other places. For example, you might set up an Instagram for your business that reveals some personal details that anyone can see.
Avoid common words and phrases
Avoid using any common words or phrases in your password. Some of the more common things people tend to enter as passwords include:
Avoid these types of passwords at all costs. Even alternative versions can be risky.
Randomness is key
When generating strong passwords, it is recommended to prioritize randomness. This adds an element of unpredictability, making it harder for attackers to guess your password based on patterns or associations. To achieve this, it is highly advisable to use a random password generator tool.
Strong password best practices
Generating a strong password is only the first step in ensuring your digital security. You also need to follow some best practices for managing and using your passwords:
Use password generators and password managers
A strong password generator tool can help you create random passwords that meet the criteria of length, complexity, unpredictability, and uniqueness. In fact, you can often set the criteria yourself when using these tools.
With these tools, you don’t have to remember a password or write it down. Some password managers also have additional features that can ease the process of using so many random passwords, such as autofill.
Don't reuse passwords
Don’t use the same password for different websites or services, especially those that involve sensitive information such as banking, email, or social media. If one of your accounts gets compromised, an attacker can use the same password to access other accounts that use it.
Update your passwords regularly
Don’t keep using the same password for too long, as it may become outdated or exposed in a data breach. Change your passwords at least every three to six months. You should also change passwords if you learn of a data breach to a service or business you use. Also, you can change your password on a whim, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) add an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring you to enter another piece of information besides your password when logging in. This could be a code sent to your phone, an email link, a fingerprint scan, or a physical device such as a USB key. According to Microsoft, MFA blocks 99.9% of all attacks.
For a business, it’s imperative that you choose a strong password generator and management solution sooner rather than later. While you’re busy rolling out the next big thing or making sure you hit every point on your SEO checklist, also make sure that your systems have strong passwords so that your efforts aren’t easily fouled by a data breach or cyber attack.