Enhance your cyber-security: 5 steps to writing hacker-proof passwords

Enhance your cyber-security: 5 steps to writing hacker-proof passwords 1024 683 Urban Spy California, La Jolla California

Cybersecurity isn’t just for special agents – plenty of useful habits can be learned and practiced by anyone to improve the security of their online data and identity. An easy to implement – and often overlooked – aspect of online security is ensuring the use of strong, varied, and difficult to crack passwords for every online account.

We’ve come a long way from the days of AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo! webmail. During the internet’s infancy, using a generic password like password123 – while certainly never secure – was at least sufficient to safeguard accounts. Not only was hacking technology less sophisticated back then, we were also juggling fewer accounts and had far less of our sensitive data, finances, and identity stored online.

With so much more at stake today, and all-the-more incentive for hackers to access this information using ever-improving technologies to aid their efforts, remaining one step ahead is more important than ever. While we are forced to largely rely on the security of data centers and the companies which house them to safeguard our information, creating strong passwords is the first line of defense completely within our own power to bolster our security exponentially.

Many people ignore the value of a secure password, assuming that stronger passwords are more difficult to remember. With so many accounts across so many websites, people are either too lazy to change their passwords or are overwhelmed by the prospect of forgetting their newer, stronger one. With the following steps, I hope to demonstrate that writing a strong password is not only easy to generate and implement, but can also be easy to remember with a few simple tricks.

So what are the characteristics of a strong password? There are a few key considerations to keep in mind – first and foremost, our password should be difficult to guess. This means that not only should our password incorporate letters and numbers, but also capitals and symbols, and should be sufficiently long to increase complexity – typically 12 or more characters, ideally. A password 6 characters in length using only lowercase letter and numbers has 1,947,792 possible combinations. By doubling the length and incorporating capitals and symbols, the total number of password combinations increases by a factor of over 200 million (477,542,747,740,513 combinations!).

Here are 5 easy steps for writing a strong and memorable password:
Pick a somewhat lengthy phrase that is meaningful to you in some way. This could be the name of an important book and author to you (“The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein”, for example) or something more personal (“our first date was at the Bronx Zoo”). Now, abbreviate it! With the examples I gave earlier, I can take the first letter of each word, giving me tlotrbjrrt or ofdwatbz. We now have a memorable and hard to guess string of characters!
Now, let’s add some numbers. Think of a number you’ll remember, but try to avoid easy to guess patterns like 1234, 1111, or 1212. Also, avoid birthdays or current address numbers. These will be the first numbers anyone trying to break in will guess to use. Instead, you can use a previous address from your childhood home, a more nuanced date like the day you got hired at your job or graduated college, your height and weight, or the last few digits of your cars VIN. Continuing with one of the previous examples, I now have tlotrbjrrt4837. You can also put the numbers at the beginning of the password, or in the middle if that’s easy enough for you to remember.
Now let’s incorporate some capital letters. Capitalize in whichever method makes the most sense to you – if your phrase is something that already has capital letters, you can keep your password capitalization consistent with your phrase (ofdwatBZ4837) or if it’s something with too many or too few capitals, consider capitalizing every other or every third letter (tLoTrBjRrT4837)
Let’s throw in some symbols! A good method is to use the same phrase, but replace any letter that looks like a symbol with the symbol itself (I = !, a=@, H = #, s=$, etc.). You can also use underscores to represent spaces in your phrase. You can also throw on an extra symbol at the end for extra measure, if you wish. Now I have, “t!oTr_BjRrT4837&”. Great!
Stay consistent with updating passwords to ensure long-lasting security and consistency. Using the same password across multiple platforms may be convenient, but is also a gamble. Should your password be compromised on even one site, the hacker now has control of your credentials across every site. This is why it is important to come up with variations of your password to use on different sites in case you fall victim to a vulnerability. At the very least, try to change your passwords every month or so. You don’t need to start from scratch, but change it in some meaningful way. If your phrase is a book, change it to the next book you read. You could +3 each number you use. Replace or remove some of the symbols. Combine these techniques to create a meaningfully different password each time.
Cybersecurity advances rapidly. As quickly as our security tools improve, there are always hackers out there identifying potential flaws and exploits. Our passwords are our first line of defense against those trying to target us, and as such, it is imperative to bolster our vanguard as much as possible.

Urban Spy California, La Jolla California

All stories by: Urban Spy California, La Jolla California

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.