Passwords are designed to protect us from bad people like crooks, hackers, thieves, snoops, catfish creeps and criminals gaining access to some of our most important online accounts.
When you don’t have a thoughtful, strong password picked out, a clever hacker could easily compromise your privacy and security creating devastating losses and enormously painful hassles in your life.
The security company, Specops, created a report on some of the weakest passwords used in 2022 by looking at 800 million breached passwords and found that many users are making the same mistakes by using commonly-guessed words.
Bad password choices fall into all types of categories from popular sports teams and athletes to names of seasons and even names of best-selling recording artists.
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A computer keyboard with letters stacked forming the word ‘password’ is seen in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw, December 12, 2013. (REUTERS/Kacper Pempel) (POLAND – Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)
What are some passwords I should avoid?
Some of the highest-ranking password words and numbers include:
If you’re using the passwords above, it’s time to change them.
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How do I come up with a good password?
There are some basic rules to creating a good password that will be difficult for hackers to crack into. Following these guidelines might help you narrow down what you should and should not use.
Make sure your password has a minimum of 12 characters
The longer the password and the more characters that a hacker has to try, the better. Some sites will require you to make your password a certain amount of characters anyway, but having at least 12-14 characters or more is usually a safe bet.
Include numbers, symbols, capital, and lowercase letters
Again, the more variety you have, the better. Make everything as random as possible to keep the hackers out. For example, a password like ‘d%A$r(T496’ would be much more difficult to crack than ‘dart496.’
Avoid dictionary words
Any word on its own is not good to use for a password. It’s too easy for a hacker to take one lucky guess from a common dictionary, like ‘cat’ or ‘apple.’ Even a combination of dictionary words like ‘blue car’ is too simple of a password.
Don’t use substitutions
Replacing letters with common symbols can also lead to bad news. For example, if you want to use the word ‘smart’ but instead write it as ‘$mart,’ 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, two other ways to keep your passwords safe are by using different passwords for different accounts and by avoiding writing down your passwords anywhere.
However, keeping track of all those letter and number combinations can be pretty difficult, especially considering that most tasks are completed online and we’re required to have many accounts.
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That’s why we recommend using a Password Manager. Password Managers are apps that allow you to create, store, fill, and manage passwords for every task that you complete online from online banking to shopping to medical records. Many password managers also include login encryption making it more difficult (including the password manager company) to guess your password.
No tool offers perfect security
Password managers are not immune to their own security breaches including one we tested and listed as a top solution. LastPass has had its customer data compromised in the recent past. Cybercriminals were able to get vault access credentials which if pried open could have devastating results.
A quick fix to one of these types of security breaches is to regularly change your master vault password. This is the main password used to gain access to the vault of all your stored passwords. If you’ve been using any password manager, I recommend changing that main vault password right now.
Which password manager should I use?
Social Media Passwords
Our top password manager pick is LastPass. LastPass keeps all your passwords in an encrypted vault and offers tons of other features along the way including:
Free trial: You can test out the premium features for 30 days. You have the option of reverting to the free version if you do not want to upgrade to a Premium account at the end of the 30 days.
Unlimited password and note storage
Secure password generator
Automatic syncing: You can add your password to one device, and it automatically gets synced across all browsers and apps.
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One-to-many sharing: You can share usernames and passwords securely with multiple people.
1 GB of file storage of private/sensitive files such as passport or license information.
Security Dashboard and Score: You can assess the strength of your passwords and monitors your password against any known data breaches.
Dark Web Monitoring: This function monitors all your accounts saved with this manager and alerts you it is found in a data breach.
Emergency access: You can give one-time access to another LastPass user in the event of an emergency.
LastPass will now allow users to log into your master vault of passwords through the LastPass Authenticator app.
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Our favorite feature which makes creating and storing passwords super easy is the Secure Password generator to create a secure password on the fly quickly:
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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, head over to CyberGuy.com/Privacy, and while you’re there, be sure to sign up for my free newsletter.