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Cracking the Code: How to Tell if Your Password Can Withstand Hackers

Updated: Oct 3, 2023


Use Strong Passwords for Personal and Financial Web Sites

Your password is the first and often the last line of defense guarding your online world. It's the key that keeps your personal information, financial data, and digital identity secure. Yet, with the ever-growing sophistication of cyber threats, it's crucial to ask yourself: Is your password strong enough to withstand the malicious efforts of hackers?

This detailed guide discusses the importance of password security, provides a litmus test that helps you identify if you have a strong password, and some best practices to help you create a strong password to stay protected from these attacks.


The Growing Need for Password Security


Hackers are always looking to sneak into your data, and cracking down on your password is one of many ways to do it. According to a report, brute force hacking attempts occur every 39 seconds, leading to around 81% of corporate data breaches.

After the hacker gets access to your credentials, they steal more personal information like names, bank account information, addresses, etc. They use this information to steal your money or identity–which can lead to even further financial losses.


The Impact of Stolen Passwords


Stolen passwords can be a means of lack of privacy, and businesses can even face the consequences of the disinformation campaigns that hackers start against them. In 2019, about 80% of data breaches occurred due to password compromise, resulting in financial losses.

Both businesses and consumers are affected by this breach alike. In 2020, an average significant data breach incident resulted in an average financial loss of $3.86 million. Interestingly, when looking specifically at the United States, it stood out with the highest average data breach cost globally, amounting to a substantial $8.69 million.

Among these data breaches, the data compromised includes credentials, personal data, payment data, and others affecting 55%, 49%, 20%, and 25% of companies, respectively.


Is Your Password Safe Enough?


Are you in the habit of creating simple passwords to memorize them easily? Or do you use personal information like your birthdate or pet's name to create passwords? Well, guess what? By doing so, you unknowingly offer hackers an easy way to sneak into your accounts.

According to a 2019 Google Survey report, people habitually reuse the same password across multiple accounts, and around 49% of people change only one letter/digit when creating a new password for a different account.

Cybernews Investigation Team recently revealed a list of people's 10 most common passwords worldwide, putting their online security at significant risk. The list includes the following passwords:

  1. qwerty123

  2. qwerty

  3. 111111

  4. 12345

  5. 123456

  6. 12345678

  7. 123456789

  8. 1234567890

  9. password

  10. 1q2w3e

So, if you assume you’re safe from these growing online cyber-attacks, pause and think again: Is your password strong enough to defend against advanced tools that can break them quickly?




Hackers can brute force short passwords very easily

Common Password Attacks with Potentially Devastating Impacts

Hackers use various techniques to compromise passwords, and these attacks can have potentially devastating consequences for individuals and organizations alike. Here are some common password attacks used by cybercriminals:

  • Brute Force Attack: In this method, hackers try 2.18 trillion combinations of characters in 22 seconds, and if you have a simple password, there’s a high chance that they’ll get it.


  • Dictionary Attack: Hackers use a dictionary of commonly used words and phrases to guess passwords. A more sophisticated dictionary attack would use words that are personally important to you, like your child's name, your birthplace, or your pet’s name.


  • Phishing: Cybercriminals create deceptive websites or emails that appear legitimate to trick users into revealing their passwords or other sensitive information.


  • Credential Stuffing: Attackers get the stolen usernames and password pairs from one breach, and during the attack, they try to gain unauthorized access to other accounts, exploiting the tendency of users to reuse passwords across multiple services.


  • Keylogger Attack: This is malicious software that hackers install on a victim's device to record keystrokes, capturing passwords as they are typed.


  • Man-in-the-Middle Attack: In this attack, a hacker sits in between two uncompromised parties/systems and deciphers the information they pass on to each other, including the passwords.

How to Stay Protected from Password Attacks?

You can protect yourself from password attacks by securing them with unique combinations and using different passwords for different accounts. Despite these measures, consider implementing the following three practices to enhance your password security further:

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds extra protection to your passwords. You must provide two or more authentication factors before granting access to your digital platforms. This can include authenticating through passwords, mobile devices, biometrics, or fingerprints.

MFA significantly enhances security because an additional barrier remains even if a password is compromised.


Use Password Managers


Password managers provide a secure and efficient way to enhance password protection. You can create, save, manage, and use passwords across various online platforms.

Among many password managers, 1Password is the most secure option that you can go for. It finds out and alerts you for any security issues on your site so you can take timely action. It supports all your devices, including Mac, PC, iOS, Chrome OS, Linux, and Andriod, stores sensitive information, and lets you securely share it with others.


On The Top, Complexity Matters!

When you make your passwords longer, you make it much harder for hackers to get in. But here's the thing: Long passwords alone might not cut it. You must also make them tricky and complex to stay one step ahead of the hacker.

According to the World Economic Forum:

A computer can take up to 3 weeks to crack passwords containing 12 lowercase letters. However, it can take up to 34,000 years to crack 12-letter passwords that contain at least one uppercase letter, a number, and a symbol.

These statistics show the huge difference a little complexity can make in keeping your information safe.

Takeaway


The passwords you create to keep your digital assets safe can become a key to leave you vulnerable to attacks that compromise your online security. It's essential to recognize that password strength is not just a matter of convenience; it's your first defense against cyber threats.

By following best practices, such as creating strong, unique passwords and regularly updating them, you can significantly enhance your protection in the digital realm. Remember, if you invest in securing your passwords today, it can save you from potential threats and financial losses in the future.

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