Some of the best passwords are ugly ones

By Contributor
March 14th, 2024

Is your password difficult to crack? March 15 is the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Password Day, and BBB is encouraging the public to protect themselves from fraud by changing their passwords to be more ugly, thereby making it harder for hackers to solve.

According to a 2023 Statista survey, 25% of Canadians changed their passwords less often than once a year. These statistics drop to only 16% changing their passwords every three to six months, and 10% between one and three months. 

With an average of 70-80 passwords to remember and manage per person, according to password manager company Nordpass, it can be difficult to create, manage, and remember unique and strong passwords. 

“One of the easiest and most effective ways to keep hackers at bay is by knowing how to create, update, and use passwords wisely,” says President and CEO Simone Lis, BBB serving Mainland BC & Yukon.

“By making a password ugly, with random numbers, words, and symbols that aren’t directly tied to your identity or social media presence, you are taking one step further to stay safe from fraudsters and online scams.”

The top 100 common passwords of 2023 in Canada included: 

  • ‘123456’, 
  • ‘password’, 
  • ‘keeptrying’, 
  • ‘welcome’, and 
  • ‘admin’.

Here are BBB’s top six tips on how to protect your passwords:

1. Use a “passphrase”. Instead of using a single word, use a passphrase. Your phrase should be relatively long, around 20 characters, and include random words, numbers and symbols. Something that you will be able to remember but others couldn’t come close to guessing, such as: “I love Michael Buble’s Christmas album.” = i<3MB/Chri$tm@s!

2. Use multiple passwords. Never use the same password for multiple accounts, especially for the most sensitive ones such as bank accounts, credit cards, legal or tax records or medical related files. While it may be easier to remember one password for every account, it’s much easier for hackers to break down one wall rather than multiple walls. If hackers can figure out one password, even if it’s for something harmless, such as an online shopping app, they will now know the password to every single account you own.

3. When it’s available, use two-factor authentication. This requires both your password and an additional piece of information upon logging in. The second piece is generally a code sent to your phone, or a random number generated by an app. This will protect your account even if your password is compromised. 

4. Change your passwords regularly. It’s a pain to change and then remember all your passwords, but it’s one of the best ways to keep your private information safe. It is best to schedule a time at least twice a year to update your passwords. Why not make that first step today? While doing so, also take the time to close old accounts that you no longer use, especially if they are associated with credit cards, or bill payments and do not forget to delete inactive email and social media accounts. 

5. Consider a password manager. A written list would be best, keep the list updated and organized, as well as secretive. But if you’re worried about losing it, consider a reputable password manager to store your information. These easy-to-access apps store all your password information and security question answers in case you ever forget. However, don’t forget to use a strong password to secure the information within your password manager.

6. Avoid easy passwords. Avoid using information that is easily searchable like your pet’s name, mother’s maiden name, favourite team, the town you grew up in, your birthday/anniversary, etc. A strong password has at least 12 to 14 characters, mixed with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. The Government of BC recommends adding more variables to your password to make it much more difficult to crack. For example, they say a password with 5 digits, and uppercase and lowercase letters (eg. Apple) would take only 25 seconds to crack. Meanwhile, a password with more than 9 digits, numbers, symbols, and a variety of uppercase and lowercase letters (eg. B3tterBu!sn3ssBure@u) would take at least 1000 years. 

Click here for a full list of BBB tips on how to create a strong password. 

About BBB: 

The Better Business Bureau has empowered people to find businesses, brands and charities they can trust for over 110 years. In 2023, people turned to BBB more than 250 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on about 12,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. Local, independent BBBs can be found across Canada and the United States.

This post was syndicated from https://thenelsondaily.com
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