Forget climate change or war or some sort of nuclear apocalypse – the biggest threat to the world right now comes from cybercrime.
As more and more of our data is stored online and we put our trust in technology to handle sensitive information like bank details and health records, the information available for hackers to harvest is increasing all the time.
You might think that it is just governments and big Hollywood stars who are at risk of a cyberattack – like when North Korea hacked Sony in 2014 – but the every day information of John from Nebraska or Jill from Texas can be just as valuable.
How do you guard yourself against cyberattacks? The most basic technique is through password security. Here’s how to create a strong password.
Don’t include personal information in your password
15 years ago, you could get away with a password that was the name of your dog followed by the year in which you were born. That was information that only a few people would’ve been privy too, making it a strong password. Thanks to social media, virtually anybody can find out that information about you in double-quick time. If your Facebook profile contains your full date of birth then they’ve got the year you were born and if you’ve ever uploaded a photo of your pets, chances are you’ve captioned it with their name as well. For a hacker, it is that easy to crack a password. They could spend five minutes on your Instagram page, gather the information needed to guess your password and then break in, leaving you scrambling around for an Instagram Password Reset Hack. The answer – either don’t include any personal details online or remove them all completely from your social media profiles.
Mix together random words or use acronyms
If a hacker can’t guess your password through detective skills, then they might be able to do it through a dictionary attack. A dictionary attack involves a sophisticated program that will run through every word in the dictionary including proper names until it cracks your password. It finds it’s way in through brute force. The dictionary attack can’t legislate for two words being combined that have no logical reason for being together – so long lists of your favorite things will defeat a dictionary attack. FishandchipsAustraliaSoccerBloodyMaryCocktail392 for example isn’t going to be compromised by a dictionary attack. You can even turn it into an acronym to make the password even harder to guess – FacASBmc392.
Change passwords regularly
Even the best passwords can be compromised. We may share a password for our work computer with a colleague, completely forgetting that it is also the password for our social media and banking. Even servers that store our passwords aren’t fully safe, as was shown when the data of nearly 3 billion Yahoo users was compromised in the Yahoo hack of 2013. You might have nothing to hide when it comes to your emails, but if you use the same password across all areas of your life and your email password is discovered, suddenly the hackers have access to everything. That is why changing passwords every 30 days – and in a much more thorough way than changing the number on the end from 2 to 3 – is vital to protecting your cyber security.