At the end of last year, a survey revealed that the most popular password was still “123456”, followed by “password”. These highly hackable choices are despite years of education around the importance of password security. So, what does this say about people who pick simple passwords? Most likely, they are shooting for a password that is easy to remember rather than super secure.
The urge to pick simple passwords is understandable given the large number of passwords that are required in our modern lives—for banking, social media, and online services, to simply unlocking our phones. But choosing weak passwords can be a major mistake, opening you up to theft and identity fraud.
Even if you choose complicated passwords, the recent rash of corporate data breaches means you could be at even greater risk by repeating passwords across accounts. When you repeat passwords all a hacker needs to do is breach one service provider to obtain a password that can unlock a string of accounts, including your online banking services. These accounts often include identity information, leaving you open to impersonation. The bad guys could open up fraudulent accounts in your name, for example, or even collect your health benefits.
So, now that you know the risks of weak password security, let’s see what your password says about you. Take this quiz to find out, and don’t forget to review our password safety tips below!
Password Quiz – Answer “Yes” or “No”
- Your passwords don’t include your address, birthdate, anniversary, or pet’s name.
- You don’t repeat passwords.
- Your passwords are at least 8 characters long and include numbers, upper and lower case letters, and characters.
- You change default passwords on devices to something hard to guess.
- You routinely lock your phone and devices with a passcode or fingerprint.
- You don’t share your passwords with people you’re dating or friends.
- You use a password manager.
- If you write your passwords down, you keep them hidden in a safe place, where no one else can find them.
- You get creative with answers to security questions to make them harder to guess. For example, instead of naming the city where you grew up, you name your favorite city, so someone who simply reads your social media profile cannot guess the answer.
- You make sure no one is watching when you type in your passwords.
- You try to make your passwords memorable by including phrases that have meaning to you.
- You use multi-factor authentication.
Now, give yourself 1 point for each question you answered “yes” to, and 0 points for each question you answered “no” to. Add them up to see what your password says about you.
You’re a Password Pro!
You take password security seriously and know the importance of using unique, complicated passwords for each account. Want to up your password game? Use multi-factor authentication, if you don’t already. This is when you use more than one method to authenticate your identity before logging in to an account, such as typing in a password, as well as a code that is sent to your phone via text message.
You’re a Passable Passworder
You go through the basics, but when it comes to making your accounts as secure as they can be you sometimes skip important steps. Instead of creating complicated passwords yourself—and struggling to remember them—you may want to use a password manager, and let it do the work for you. Soon, you’ll be a pro!
You’re a Hacker’s Helper
Uh oh! It looks like you’re not taking password security seriously enough to ensure that your accounts and data stay safe. Start by reading through the tips below. It’s never too late to upgrade your passwords, so set aside a little time to boost your security.
Key Tips to Become a Password Pro:
- Always choose unique, complicated passwords—Try to make sure they are at least 8 characters long and include a combination of numbers, letters, and characters. Don’t repeat passwords for critical accounts, like financial and health services, and keep them to yourself.Also, consider using a password manager to help create and store unique passwords for you. This way you don’t have to write passwords down or memorize them. Password managers are sometimes offered as part of security software.
- Make your password memorable—We know that people continue to choose simple passwords because they are easier to remember, but there are tricks to creating complicated and memorable passwords. For instance, you can string random words together that mean something to you, and intersperse them with numbers and characters. Or, you can choose random letters that comprise a pattern only know to you, such as the fist letter in each word of a sentence in your favorite book.
- Use comprehensive security software—Remember, a strong password is just the first line of defense. Back it up with robust security softwarethat can detect and stop known threats, help you browse safely, and protect you from identity theft.
For more great password tips, go here.