They have become an integral part of our lives: passwords. Whether for online banking, email accounts, online shopping or ticket bookings – nothing works without the login data. Many Internet users are overwhelmed with the large number of their accounts and the associated passwords. And so we often choose an easy-to-remember password. The name of a child or the birthday of a loved one, maybe an added special character – done. But even this seems too complicated for many users. The Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam determines the most popular German passwords every year. In 2019, the top 20 list was dominated again by simple series of numbers and letters like “123456”, “000000” or “abc123” and words such as “password”. The trends of the past years continue.
Passwords are the key to our data and accounts, almost to our complete life. We ensure that apartments and cars are locked securely. However, we often do not handle our data carefully. This makes it easy for hackers, who are working with fully automated programs to test all possible characters. With billions of options tried every second short and simple passwords can be retrieved fast.
It is therefore strongly recommended to pay more attention to our passwords.
The following tips can help you design and manage passwords securely:
The first and simplest rule is: choose a password that is as long as possible and contains as many different characters as possible and cannot be found in any dictionary. A secure password should contain at least ten characters and no names, birthdays or simple sequences of letters or numbers like “1234 …” or “abcd …”.
There are no limits to creativity when choosing a password. You just have to be able to remember it well. For example, a password can consist of a complete sentence (Mycat ispurpleandhasonlyoneear) or from the respective first and last letters of each word in the sentence (Myctispeadhsoyoeer). Letters could be also replaced by special characters (e.g. Myc@t1spurpleandhasonly1ear, Myctispeadhsoy1er).
Because it’s convenient, we often use the same password for multiple accounts. However, to increase security, we should create a separate password for each account. That’s fine – but who can remember all this? So-called password managers can help out: special apps or software in which all passwords are stored and then protected with one master password.
Passwords should not be saved locally or on the internet. However, we tend to store login credentials in apps and login screens, especially using smartphones. This poses risks if the smartphone is ever lost or stolen.
If a data security breach occurs, a password change is highly recommended. In any case, this should be done regularly for important accounts such as online banking.
And last but not least: Also, when creating a password, keep in mind that some special characters may not be easy to type on any keyboard and can be inconvenient when traveling abroad. This topic may seem annoying, but the secure design of passwords contributes to the important protection of our personal data and accounts. Cybercrime is on the rise and Hackers work with efficient tools to crack passwords. Special software and assistance can support password creation and management. And inventing a particularly creative and secure password can even be fun!
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