Take Advantage of These Security Tips Before You Change Your Password

It may seem as though every New Year brings more passwords. And if you’ve been reading the news lately, it may appear as though passwords are becoming easier to break. While this may be due to hackers using more advanced technology, a big part of it is the initial security of the passwords themselves.

As internet users, choosing a secure password is essential. However, perhaps understanding how passwords are broken can shed more light on why it’s important to be as secure as possible. Usually, hackers breach passwords by using a ‘guessing attack’. Performed offline, this type of attack involves the hacker obtaining a file of encrypted passwords, and then de-encrypting that file by guessing the passwords and getting immediate confirmation if they are correct or incorrect. The way this is done is by using password cracking software.

Cracking Software Has Become More Sophisticated

Different ‘dictionaries’ are used by today’s hackers to crack passwords. They can ‘guess’ passwords by searching for foreign words, names, English words, and even phonetic patterns. In addition, several capitalisations and common substitutions can also be searched. Some examples could be substituting “@” for “a” or “$” for “S”.

Today’s password crackers combine all of the above, and have been able to discover passwords that were previously considered to be fairly complex and therefore, secure. The truth is that hackers can and will use any personal information about the creator of the password they are trying to crack, feeding it into their password cracking software. This can include postal codes, dates and even file names from a computer they have hacked.

All Is Not Lost

Although it may seem as though there is no longer any way to create a password that’s hard for hackers to crack, there are still some effective methods which circumvent the process that hackers use today.

One of the ways to do this is by taking any sentence and turning it into a password. An easy-to-remember sentence like “Why did the chicken cross the road” could be turned into “wdtccrossTR”. Adding another level of security to this method is as easy as using a sentence that is personal to you. So for example, if your brother stole your toy truck when you were 7 years old, this could translate into “WIw7,mbsmytt” or “When I was 7, my brother stole my toy truck”. When a sentence that’s personally memorable is modified into a lengthy password, it can be far harder to crack.

Password Best Practices

In combination with the method of password creation you use, employing best practices is always an excellent idea. For example, changing your passwords often will help to keep you one step ahead of hackers. Also, using a different password for each of your sites is another way to make a hacker’s job harder. Once sound password security becomes a habit, it becomes easier to create new passwords and change them frequently, leaving you with far more peace of mind.