Lately, there has been numerous reports of data breaches. It has become a nasty trend where user’s confidential information gets into the hands of cybercriminals. With the plethora of websites on the internet requesting users to register accounts with usernames and passwords, it has become an overwhelming task, not just to create a strong and unique password that one can easily remember, but also unique enough that it cannot be guessed easily by anyone. You also become vulnerable to cybercriminals who use various tactics to crack passwords and steal personal information.
Passwords, also known as passcodes have been in use for a very long time, since the early days of computers. Passwords have been created for various stuff to grant access to secured places or information. They are used by the government, military and establishments, as well as, individuals for various purposes to protect confidential information and ensure unauthorized access to information in computers, mobile devices, Bank’s Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and many others. This digital age has caused a widespread use of computers and internet, allowing millions of usernames and passwords to be created during a log in process.
Your password gives you entry into your own personal space or territory and so we are often required to change our passwords to protect us against attacks from cybercriminals. Some create duplicate passwords while some have only ONE MASTER password. Whenever we create a password, we usually want to create something that can be easily remembered. However, that can make it easy for any hacker to crack.
The Different Ways To Hack Passwords
Cybercriminals use different tactics to hack passwords. One common way is by buying login credentials and passwords illegally. If you are one of those who has been using the same password for some years now, chances are your password may have been or will be compromised.
When they are not buying off the dark web, another way they resort to is cracking passwords, which is usually aimed at individual accounts or gotten from a leaked database. They either use brute force attack, which makes use of a software that tries to guess all combination in the books until it hits the right target. These softwares have the ability to crack as many combinations in the quickest time possible with up to 12 characters containing upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, just like the 25-GPU cluster program developed by an industrious hacker in 2012 that runs guesses as many as 350 billion per seconds.
They also use Dictionary attack, where they make use of a pre-arranged list of possible words and phrases from a dictionary to guess usernames and passwords. So, if you are the type that uses a password that has an irregular, uncommon or multiple word phrase, you are likely to outsmart a dictionary attack. For example, using a combination of un-related words like SchoolTimberYellowBath for a password will make it impossible to crack.
How To Protect Your Password
Well, while cybercriminals are still looking for ways to crack passwords and break into people’s personal information, there are still things you can do to protect your passwords and yourself. And this simple hack I learnt on how to create passwords that will make it hard for any hacker or software to crack will help you stay ahead and protected from cyber attacks for a longer time.
Generally, it is advisable that when creating passwords, you should use anything above 12 characters as this makes your password less vulnerable to being cracked by these hackers and software programs. At least, we have learnt from the industrial hacker’s 25-GPU cluster program and others that the length of your password is very important. The longer the password, the better.
Apart from having long password length, you should always make sure your password includes upper case and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, as well as three to four uncommon or unrelated words that cannot be found in the dictionary. A good mix of all these elements like “Big~PinkMarket$8.95#” will make it difficult to crack.
Finally, my favorite hack is to use or include an accented letter or letters in your password. For those of you that don’t know what accented letters are, they are letters that have marks above or below them to give a certain pronunciation like we have here – (À, â, ĕ, į, ō, ų, ŵ, ź). Although, you can find the accented letters on some specialized keyboards, however, if your keyboard does not have them, you can access Microsoft Word’s Symbol window to get the letters you need. There are also other shortcuts you can use to type directly from your keyboard to get the accented letters. While this is not a topic for today’s discussion, you can indicate your interest if you would like me to share the shortcuts on “How to get accented letters from your keyboards”.
In the last couple of years, I have had to change my passwords far too many times as a result of cyber-attacks. No matter how personal, random or uncommon the words maybe, one way or the other, it will end up being breached, and will require me to change my password. But that was before I learnt this hack.
Really, I know how daunting it is to create new passwords every now and then, or to change existing ones regularly. And while creating these passwords, you also have to remember them whenever you want to access the particular website you created it for. I am aware there are password managers that helps to create passwords and remembers them as well, but you will still need to create a strong password that you will remember for the password manager right?