How Secure Is My Password?
Password Strength Tester
|Password Strength Elements||Present|
|12 characters or more|
|Contains uppercase and lowercase letters|
|Contains special characters|
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Welcome to our password strength guide and tool. We designed this page to test your passwords and help you better understand the security of your online passwords.
In today's digital age, creating strong, unique passwords is more crucial than ever. Compromised passwords can lead to a range of negative consequences, including identity theft, privacy loss, and financial loss for both businesses and consumers.
Unfortunately, many people still use weak, easily guessable passwords, putting themselves and their information at risk. Weak passwords can lead to serious consequences. The United States suffered total identity theft losses of $52 billion, affecting 42 million victims.
This article will provide you with information on how to create strong passwords, test the strength of your existing passwords, and implement other best practices for enhancing your online security.
Whether you're a seasoned cybersecurity professional or a complete beginner, this guide will help you better understand the importance of password security and how to stay safe online.
How to Create Secure Passwords
Creating strong, unique passwords is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your online accounts from unauthorized access.
Here are some best practices to follow when creating secure passwords:
- Length and Complexity: The longer and more complex your password, the better. Passwords should be at minimum 12 characters long, but 16 characters or more is ideal. Include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters (such as @ or !).
- Avoid Easily Guessable Information: Avoid using personal information like your name, birth date, or phone number, as they can be easily guessed by hackers. Do not use common words or phrases such as "password" or "123456".
- Don't Reuse Passwords: Don't reuse passwords across different accounts, as this can make it easier for attackers to gain access to multiple accounts if one password is compromised.
- Use a Passphrase: Consider using a passphrase instead of a single word. A passphrase is a long, memorable sentence that includes a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Example
- Regularly update your passwords: It's recommended to update your passwords at least every six months or immediately if you suspect a breach.
Tips for Improving Password Security
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) requires two forms of identification, making it much more difficult for criminals to access your accounts, even if they crack your password, as they still need access to a code sent to your phone or email. 2FA, also referred to as Two-Step Verification, is a very solid security measure that provides a much-needed extra layer of protection to your online accounts.
Many online services are starting to require 2FA, but often it is an optional feature that you must opt in to or activate on your own. Even if 2FA is not mandatory, it's still a great idea to use it wherever possible to increase your overall online security.
2FA doesn't prevent your passwords from getting cracked, but it can still prevent access to your account. If you receive verification codes when you are not attempting to sign in anywhere, it is a strong signal that your password has been compromised and that you need to change it.
Use a Password Manager
We now know it is best to have a strong, unique passwords for each online account, and that means you are going to have a lot of passwords to remember. There are some simple ways to keep them organized securely without the headache of organizing them.
You may want to refrain from writing down your passwords or keeping them in a place where they are simple to get to. Instead, you might want to use a password manager.
A password manager is a secure software application that stores all of your passwords in an encrypted database and is an effective way to create and manage strong and unique passwords for all of your online accounts.
One of the main benefits of using a password manager is that it removes the burden of remembering multiple passwords, which can be challenging, especially if you have many accounts. With a password manager, you only need to remember a single, strong master password to access all of your accounts.
When it comes to storing your passwords on your computer or phone, a password manager is the best choice. Many password managers also provide other valuable services like:
- Secure Password Sharing: You can easily and securely share passwords with trusted friends without them seeing it, as well as revoke access to them when needed.
- Dark Web Monitoring: You can receive alerts if your information is found on the Dark Web to give you a heads up on possible identity theft.
- Password and Login Generators: Generate impossible-to-guess usernames as well as strong, unique passwords to use so you don't have to think of them.
Here are three that are popular and secure password managers that offer all of these services and more:
Should You Store Passwords Written on Paper?
There are mixed opinions on the security of keeping passwords written on paper, and it is generally not the first choice. However, for those that are determined to do this, is best to follow a few rules that will keep your info safe from those who may access your personal workspace.
Here are a few ways to keep your passwords safely stored written on paper:
- Don't write the exact password down, but rather hints or abbreviations: Abbreviate both what account the password goes to as well as your hints so they can't be easily guessed. If you are worried about forgetting your passwords still, you can store full versions under lock and key.
- Avoid labeling or titling the page: Be sure not to label the page where you have passwords written down with obvious terms like "Passwords," "Account Info," or even "Hints." It is better to wrongly mislabel the page with something you will remember.
- Don't write down all your passwords in one place: You should use multiple unique passwords and shouldn't write them all down in one place. Instead, consider splitting them up between multiple notebooks or storing them in different physical locations. It is better to lose your password and have to reset it rather than it being easily accessible.
All this said, using a password manager is the easiest and most secure option for organizing and storing all your passwords.
Common Password Mistakes to Avoid
Most errors in password security come down to laziness or just simple impatience. Spending even just a few more moments thinking about the passwords you create can go a long way.
Here are four common password mistakes and patterns to avoid!
1. Repeating and Reusing Passwords
We will repeat this one over and over until you stop repeating your passwords. This is so common because who wants to remember a dozen passwords? Unfortunately, this can give a hacker access to multiple accounts if they have the password to just one. Having unique and strong passwords can limit the damage done to one online account if it is compromised.
2. Obvious Common Passwords
Some people get complacent with basic passwords because maybe they have never had issues or think they will change it and never do. These basic passwords can get cracked in less than 10 seconds, and it only takes a few seconds to 100 times the security of your password.
The five most common passwords are:
It should go without saying that these types of passwords are basically useless. Luckily, most important online accounts don't allow these basic passwords.
3. No Upper Case Letters, Numbers, or Symbols
The reason you should use one or multiple combinations of these is that it keeps making your account more secure with each one.
Again, online companies are starting to require you to create a password with at least one of each of these.
4. Short Passwords
The path of least resistance is making the password the minimum length required. Just remember, the longer, the better and harder it is to crack.
Once again, all the worries associated with trying to remember long, complex passwords can be solved by using a password manager.
Importance of Password Security
Besides the obvious unwanted unauthorized access to your accounts, there are many important reasons you should take your password security seriously.
We have all probably heard of this, but some may not know exactly what it entails. Identity theft is a form of fraud where someone steals your personal information, such as your name, date of birth, Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account information, and uses it for their financial gain or other illegal activities.
Weak passwords are commonly a cause of identity theft because they are easy for cybercriminals to guess or crack. If you use a weak password, a hacker is more likely to be able to gain access to your online accounts and personal information, which could lead to identity theft. Besides the basic fear and frustration, identity theft can have a lasting effect on the victim.
Here are some common issues an identity theft victim may face:
- Financial Loss: One of the primary concerns is losing your hard-earned money. With identity theft, it is not a guarantee that you can get all the lost money back.
- Damaged Credit: Credit can be damaged by things you may not be aware of happening, for example, excessive credit inquiries and missed payments.
- Lost Time and Effort: The process of combating or repairing the damage can be very time-consuming with things like reporting and disputing charges.
- Legal Fees and Issues: Though they can often be proven innocent, people have been accused of crimes committed in their name by someone who stole their identity.
Business Legal Liabilities
A hacker can cause you legal issues by committing crimes in your name, and you may also be held liable for weak security in some cases as a business owner. Many organizations are required to comply with various regulatory requirements, such as HIPAA and PCI-DSS, which require strong password security to protect sensitive information.
You should be highly aware of your password security if you are a business owner, as a significant data breach may cause irreparable damage. If hackers gain access to your company or customer's data, this can affect you negatively in many ways, including:
- Fines: If you are found to be not compliant with basic security guidelines in the event of a breach, companies may face large fines, fees, and other penalties.
- Loss of Customers: Customers can get upset or unsure if their information is secure with a business that has been hacked, which can result in a loss of their business.
- Damaged Reputation: You could receive public scrutiny, which could also lead to other businesses choosing not to work with you.
- Financial Loss: Not only can all of these things listed above cost money, but a hacker may also use your company's financial info to make unauthorized purchases or transfers.
More Ways To Boost Your Online Security
So, now that you have learned how to strengthen your passwords let's look at five more ways to boost your online safety.
1. Use Antivirus and Update it
It is not enough to just get an antivirus; you also should be sure that it is continually updated. Updating your antivirus ensures you get the latest protection from new, ever-evolving attacks. There is antivirus software available for phones, but it is not generally a necessity for mobile devices. Rather just ensure that your phone software is updated for optimum protection.
2. Use a VPN
You may have tried a VPN once or twice, or are required to use one for work. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, encrypts your traffic and masks your IP address, making it much harder for cybercriminals or third parties to access your info. Without one, there is no guarantee that these things are happening, so consider trying one out. You can usually find a free trial, but they are worth the cost and are very easy to use.
3. Get a More Secure Browser
If you are using browsers like Chrome or Safari, you should know there is a way better option when it comes to security. The Brave browser can block privacy-invasive ads and offers a better private window than Chrome's Incognito Mode option, which hides your IP address. It is also known as one of the fastest browsers, with sometimes even faster loading time than the most commonly used ones.
4. Clear Browsing History and Cache
Clearing your cache mostly benefits your personal workspace security. Private and secure information can be accessed by checking the history, and cached info may grant someone access to accounts you were signed into. Next time you clear your history, be sure to clear the cache as well. Clearing the cache can also speed up loading times and fix page errors you run into.
5. Get Notified of Data Breaches
Did you know you can enter your email and quickly get data breach info in seconds? One such safe tool to use, found at haveibeenpowned.com, allows you to enter your email or phone number, and it will send you a report of known data breaches. It scans databases of known data breaches that have been reported that involve your information.
It will also give you some tips on what to do if your information has been breached. You can also check if a current password has been found in any databases using that same site's password checker tool. If it has been found, it is time to change it!
How to Respond to a Data Breach
You may have recently discovered your data has been leaked in a data breach by a company or by using a search tool. Now you should know exactly what a data breach is and what actions to take.
A data breach means some service has had its database that stores customer information exposed publicly or to hackers. While this can be shocking and scary, there is no reason to panic, but rather just calmy take action.
Here are some things to check and some basic ideas for responding to data breaches:
- Identify the Affected Emails: There is not too much to be worried about when just an email is leaked alone. Unfortunately, emails are not all that private anyways, that is why everyone gets so much spam.
- Check What Password Information Was Exposed: If your email and password were both leaked, there is a bit more to consider. If a data breach contains your unhashed password, immediately use that password with every service where you use it.
- Check Affected Credit Cards: Be sure to identify what card information was compromised and begin monitoring charges. Work with your bank to check unidentified charges if any are found.
- Monitor Your Credit Score: If you have Banks often offer services that will help you monitor your credit score for free. There are more in-depth paid identity theft services like Lifelock, for example, that can help.
- Seek Professional Help in Extreme Cases: In extreme cases involving a business you own that may have affected others' information, may require getting help from a forensic specialist.
Remember, time matters in the sense of how fast you react to a data breach, and changing your password never hurts. Consider subscribing to the free "Notify Me" feature on haveibeenpowned.com to get notifications of data breaches as soon as they have been discovered. Many password managers also have tools that can alert you of data breaches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Someone Really Crack My Password?
Hackers use tools that crack or guess hashed passwords. If you use a weak password, it is very possible that it could get cracked. Check your password strength above and follow the guidelines for making a strong password with 12 or more characters.
How do Hackers Find Out My Password?
The most common way hackers get passwords is through Phishing attacks. These attacks often happen through email or direct messages and involve them tricking victims into giving or entering private information. Criminals can also access passwords by finding or buying them from data breaches.
Is a 12-digit Password Secure?
A 12-digit password is very hard if you use combinations of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. 12 is really the lowest amount of characters you should use, and using more with no repeated characters will increase the time to crack it drastically.