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Passwords are like opinions: everyone has one, and they’re all terrible. In all seriousness though, they are a necessary evil in our modern lives. We need them to log into our email accounts, our social media profiles, our banking apps – pretty much everything we do online requires one.
And that’s why it’s so important to create a strong, secure password that won’t be hacked. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to do that. In fact, chances are good that you’re making at least one of these seven fatal mistakes.
Using easily guessed words
“123456”, “qwerty” – these are all terrible passwords that are far too easy for hackers to guess. In fact, “123456” has been the most popular password for the last 5 years! If you’re using any of these (or anything like them), it’s time for a change.
Not using a unique password for each account
This is a mistake that a lot of people make. They’ll use the same password for their email account as they do for their social media accounts, or their online banking login. If a hacker manages to guess or obtain your password for one account, they now have access to all of your other accounts! Use a different one for each of your online accounts to keep yourself safe. In particular, make sure you have a unique one for any account that includes financial information.
Using easily accessible personal information
Your birthdate, your mother’s maiden name, your pet’s name – these are all pieces of information that can be easily obtained by hackers (or even just someone you know). Steer clear of using any personally identifiable information in your passwords to stay safe.
Not using special characters
Special characters, like #$%^&*(), are key to creating a strong password because they add an extra layer of complexity that hackers have to try to decipher. If your password is just a string of letters and numbers, it’s not going to be very secure. Add some special characters into the mix to make it harder for hackers to crack your code.
Making your passwords too short
A lot of people think that shorter passwords are better because they’re easier to remember – but they come with a huge security risk! In fact, shorter passwords are easier for hackers to guess because they have fewer possibilities that they have to try in order to find the right one. Shoot for a minimum of eight characters when creating your passwords.
Not changing your passwords regularly
Just like you should get into the habit of changing the oil in your car every 5,000 miles, you should also get into the habit of changing your passwords on a regular basis – ideally every three to six months. This helps keep your accounts safe in case your password is ever compromised.
Using easily hackable software
There are certain techniques that make it easy for hackers to obtain passwords, like using keyloggers or phishing scams. Be sure you’re using up-to-date security software on all of your devices to help protect yourself from these types of attacks.
Passwords are a necessary evil in our modern lives, but they don’t have to be dangerous if we’re careful about how we create and manage them. By avoiding these seven common mistakes, you can create strong, secure passwords that will help keep your online accounts safe from hacks.