Why it’s so Important to Always Use Complex and Unique Passwords
Unfortunately, there are cybercriminals and hackers who are constantly trying to gain access to valuable Internet resources like your banking and personal information. We must ask ourselves what is a complex and unique password? We create passwords that we think no one would ever guess. But, the truth of the matter is that these criminals can be relentless when attempting to gain access to their targets. They use specially designed software to complement their malicious actions and behaviors. What one user considers a secure password may be simply a minor inconvenience for a hacker. We must ask ourselves what is a complex and unique password?
The techniques and resources that hackers use to break our passwords can be quite effective. There are several reasons to use strong, unique passwords. We hear the stories about large corporations being hacked and millions of credentials being stolen, sometimes without being detected for days, weeks, or even months after the crime. The Dark Web is full of these credentials for sale. We can’t stop those types of things happening but we can ensure that our personally used credentials to access the websites we visit are created in a secure manner.
When creating passwords a user must ensure that the password is unique to that particular account/website. What happens is once a password is stolen by a cybercriminal they will look for other accounts under the same name as the victim and try to use that same password to gain access to other personal, sensitive, or financial information. That’s why uniqueness is so important. When it comes to passwords certain rules apply to the creation of complex and unique passwords on the Internet and as well as within your personal home network. Proper personal user password security involves both complexity and uniqueness.
Identity Theft is Scary
Passwords that are not complex and unique can lead to identity theft. A study cited in Forbes magazine concluded that one in every twenty adults has been a victim of identity theft. Once identity theft has occurred you could spend years trying to sort it out, and hopefully repairing whatever damage has been done.
What is a Complex Password?
There are several factors to consider. A complex password uses multiple types of characters in different ways to create a secure password. It is recommended to use at least three of the following character types: 1) lowercase letters, 2) uppercase letters, 3) numbers, 4) special characters – possibly alt-characters. A complex password is also long. Some say 8 characters is long enough. However, it is so simple to make it longer why not do it. I recommend a length of at least 12 characters.
What is a Unique Password?
The answer to this is simple. But, the actual practice of doing it is not. Simply put a unique password is one that is used only one time, for one site, and not repeated again for the current site or other sites. It takes extra effort to make all passwords unique, but it is critical for avoiding multiple and costly compromises.
How to Create a Strong Password
Now that we know what is a complex and unique password, let’s talk about how we can put our knowledge to practice. Remember the importance of using strong passwords all the time. It is easy to sometimes take shortcuts that save us work and time. Foregoing strong password management is no place to take shortcuts. I use a password generator that is part of a password manager when I create complex and unique passwords.
Recently, Digital Guardian® surveyed 1000 people about their password security habits. The results are interesting.
- A majority of consumers reuse the same password many times.
- More than 20% of consumers have had accounts hacked.
- Sadly, 64% of consumers use weak passwords.
- Difficulty remembering passwords causes bad habits.
In times past passwords were used for entry into private clubs and lots of trivial purposes. However today we rely on passwords to protect our personal and private information and safeguard our life savings, our retirement. We must maintain good strong password security practices.
Should you Use a Password Manager and Generator?
Whether you use a password manager to create and manage strong passwords is entirely up to you. a Dashlane analysis of data from more than 20,000 users found that the average user has 90 online accounts. The password manager I use and have used for years is called Dashlane. It’s an excellent password manager with a built-in password generator. It keeps track of everything securely and automatically. It works across all your devices. Check it out here and get six months of free premium service.
What are Best Practices for Password Security?
1) Update passwords on a regular basis, and always immediately after being notified of a possible breach.
2) Passphrases are effectively secure and easier to remember, so use them.
3) Don’t reuse passwords between multiple accounts.
4) Protect online banking accounts with multi-factor authentication.
5) Never store passwords on your computer unless they are encrypted.