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Adam Stahl

By: Adam Stahl on May 2nd, 2019

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4 Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Passwords

Cybersecurity | Executive Consulting

It seems like large-scale data breaches that expose thousands upon millions of records are regrettably becoming commonplace today. Protecting your personal and business data should be a priority for anyone that has ever entered information into a web form.

Without taking proper steps to secure your data like login credentials, you could make yourself vulnerable to anything from phishing attacks to full account takeover (or even worse). Even a single breach can cost a business upwards of $2.3 million per attack (not to mention the costs related to things like the damage to your reputation) and personal accounts risk losing personal finances, priceless memories (like photos and videos), and more. One of the most basic ways to improve cybersecurity is to make sure you're following best practices for your passwords.

Studies have shown that, without proper cybersecurity awareness training (including password best practices), employees can potentially be the weakest layer in your cybersecurity. If you're not implementing strong password best practices, even the most advanced cybersecurity systems may not be enough to defend your online accounts from weak passwords like "123456". Beyond that, the processing power of brute-force attacks is unfortunately improving every year as well.

This is precisely why companies need to keep up with ever-changing strong password best practices to stay ahead of the capabilities of cyber criminals. To help get you started on the road to better cybersecurity, we’ve compiled a list of simple ways to strengthen your passwords.

Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Passwords

  1. Avoid Personal Information
  2. Use A Passphrase
  3. Use Unique Passwords For Each Account
  4. Consider Using A Password Manager

1. Avoid Personal Information

You probably adore your pet, but they probably won't be any more loving towards you if you honor them in your passwords. The same goes for your name, your spouse, your hometown, your college, or your favorite sports team - you get the idea. Via techniques like social engineering, it can be easy for a cyber criminal to find and exploit that type of info with relatively little effort compared to using a stronger password.

2. Use A Passphrase

Remember when password best practices just included suggestions like "add a number or a special character" to a long word? Cyber criminals broke that strategy a long time ago and, for a number of reasons, a single word password with an extra special character or number simply doesn't cut it anymore.

A passphrase is basically just a couple of words or even a whole sentence that you use as your password. Some greater insight from Kelser Systems Engineer Myles Winiski:

Using sentences as passwords is hard to guess and easy to remember. If uppercase / numbers / special characters are required, you can simply integrate them into the password.

For example, “iamafanofthegametetris” is a stronger password than “YgN5#t” because the longer your password is, the exponentially harder it is to brute force.

Spelling words incorrectly is good too along with adding numbers and special characters. This would be an even stronger password: “Iamafanofthagaim*45Tetris”.

3. Use Unique Passwords For Each Account

According to one study, an average user only has six unique passwords to protect 24 different accounts. In that scenario, if one of that average user's accounts was involved in a data breach or compromised otherwise it would make three more of their accounts vulnerable to compromise as well. By ensuring that each of your accounts has a unique password - and we don't mean just changing a single number or character - it minimizes possible damage that could be done in the event that your credentials are exposed in some way.

4. Consider Using A Password Manager

About Adam Stahl

Adam is Kelser's Digital Strategist who invites boundless creativity to achieve outcomes that inspire confidence.

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