Passwords are designed to protect us from bad people like crooks, hackers, thieves, snoopers, catfish creeps and criminals who gain access to some of our most important online accounts.
If you haven’t chosen a thoughtful, strong password, a clever hacker could easily compromise your privacy and security, causing devastating losses and tremendously painful problems in your life.
Security company Specops produced a report on some of the weakest passwords used in 2022 by looking at 800 million broken passwords and noting that many users make the same mistakes using commonly guessed words.
Poorly chosen passwords fall into all sorts of categories, from popular sports teams and athletes to names of seasons and even names of best-selling recording artists.
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Which passwords should I avoid?
Some of the highest ranking password words and numbers are:
- to edit
- war of stars
If you’re using the above passwords, it’s time to change them.
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How do I find a good password?
There are some basic rules for creating a good password that is difficult for hackers to crack. Following these guidelines can help you narrow down what you should and shouldn’t use.
Make sure your password is at least 12 characters long
The longer the password and the more characters a hacker has to try, the better. Some websites require your password to be a certain number of characters anyway, but having at least 12-14 characters or more is usually a safe bet.
Use numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters
Again, the more variety you have, the better. Make everything as random as possible to keep the hackers away. For example, a password like “d%A$r(T496” would be much harder to crack than “dart496”.
Avoid dictionary words
Any word alone does not make a good password. It’s too easy for a hacker to take a lucky guess from a common dictionary, like “cat” or “apple.” Even a combination of dictionary words like “blue car” is too simple a password.
Don’t use substitutions
Replacing letters with common symbols can also lead to bad news. For example, if you want to use the word “smart” but write it as “$mart” instead, it’s too obvious because the $ symbol and the letter S look too similar.
How can I keep my passwords safe?
Aside from the simpler password guidelines listed above, there are two other ways to keep your passwords safe, by using different passwords for different accounts and avoiding writing your passwords down anywhere.
However, it can be quite difficult to keep track of all these letter and number combinations, especially considering that most of the tasks are done online and we need to have many accounts.
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Therefore we recommend the use of a password manager.Password managers are apps that help you create, save, fill, and manage passwords for every task you do online, from online banking to shopping to medical records. Many password managers also include login encryption that makes it harder (including the password manager company) to guess your password.
No tool offers perfect security
Password managers aren’t immune to their own vulnerabilities, including one that we’ve tested and ranked as a top solution. LastPass customer data has recently been compromised. Cyber criminals have been able to obtain access credentials for the vault, which if breached could have devastating consequences.
A quick fix for any of these types of security breaches is to change your Master Vault Password regularly. This is the master password that gives you access to the vault of all your saved passwords. If you’ve been using a password manager, I recommend changing your main vault password now.
Which password manager should I use?
Our top pick for password managers is LastPass. LastPass stores all your passwords in an encrypted vault while offering tons of other features, including:
Free Trial: You can try the premium features for 30 days. You have the option to revert to the free version if you don’t want to upgrade to a premium account after the 30 days are up.
Unlimited password and note storage
Secure password generator
Auto sync: You can add your password to a device and it will automatically sync across all browsers and apps.
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One-to-many sharing: You can securely share usernames and passwords with multiple people.
1 GB file storage for private/sensitive files such as passport or license information.
Security Dashboard and Score: You can assess the strength of your passwords and monitor your password for known data breaches.
Dark Web Monitoring: This feature monitors all your accounts stored with this manager and alerts you if a data breach is detected.
Emergency Access: You can grant another LastPass user one-time access in case of an emergency.
LastPass now allows users to log in to your Master Vault with passwords through the LastPass Authenticator app.
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Our favorite feature that makes creating and storing passwords super easy is the strong password generator, which allows you to create a strong password quickly and easily:
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Learn more about Last Pass and other great password manager companies by visiting CyberGuy.com/Passwords
For more of my privacy tips, visit CyberGuy.com/Privacy, and while you’re there, be sure to sign up for my free newsletter.