A weak password makes identity theft easy for hackers. You would never paint your social security number on the side of a truck and drive around town, but if your password is shared, left out in the open, and used on multiple sites, then you might as well ride shotgun with the Lifelock CEO (his SSN has been stolen 13 times).
As the internet becomes more entwined with our personal and financial lives, the importance of protecting our passwords cannot be understated. Within the last year, hackers have been increasingly aggressive with stealing passwords. 2012 has seen password theft increase 300% from 2010, according to a study by SecurityCoverage. A stolen password does not automatically lead to identity theft, but someone whose data has been compromised is 9.5 times more likely to have their identity stolen.
A hacker can use several different tactics to break into an account, but their preferred strategy is to use stolen passwords. This is because the password and login combination is the only defense between a hacker and your data; which is easier to hack than completely hacking into an entire website from the backend.
There are several tools on the market to strengthen password security beyond the password/login formula. The best password solutions will have features like multi-factor authentication and cloud storage. Password management software allows you to securely keep track of all your different passwords and can be accessed from multiple locations. We will showcase three solid password solutions in part two of our article.
The irony of password management software is that you still need a password to use it. Think of this as a password for your passwords, so make sure you pick a good one! Complexity is the rule of thumb when choosing a secure password, use a combination of letters, numbers, and characters, and use the maximum amount of characters allowed. Many websites have a password strength indicator next to the password text box, be sure make use of this helpful tool.
Do you have a good password that you are using? Share it with everybody in the comments! (Just kidding!) You obviously never want to share your password with strangers, but we would like it if you contributed to the comments any helpful password tips that you know of. Next time we’ll talk about a few different tools you can use to manage your passwords.