5 Steps to Password Security

In recent years, news stories about hacked emails and compromised accounts have become commonplace. The 2011 Sony Playstation hack pushed 77 million customers’ personal information, including names, email and home addresses, and passwords, out into the world. In 2014, the iCloud and Gmail hacks resulted, respectively, in the public release of dozens of private celebrity photos and the theft of five million email accounts.

If you read the news, you know that breaches are inevitable, and that sound security practices are more important than ever. For end users, passwords are the first line of defense. When it comes to safeguarding privacy, personal information and corporate data, start by observing the following precautions as you create your passwords.

  1. Passwords should contain a minimum of six characters — ideally, eight or more.
  2. If a password is case sensitive, insert mixed-case typing for an extra layer of protection. The same letter, upper and lower case, counts as two different characters.
  3. Make use of numerical and special characters, as well. The password-cracking tools used by hackers will have to work longer and harder with the addition of numbers and symbols.
  4. Intentionally spell words incorrectly. Password-cracking tools guess passwords straight out of the dictionary. If your password is spelled incorrectly or with numbers and symbols replacing certain letters, it’s harder to crack.
  5. The most secure passwords are random combinations of letters, numbers and symbols. Use this strategy to create a password that is totally unique; just make sure it’s something you will remember.
  6. Finally, create different passwords for different logins. Otherwise, if one of your passwords is stolen, you run the risk that all of your online accounts will be compromised.