If we've said it once, we've said it a million times: strong passwords are the first line of defense against Nosey Nancies and hacking hooligans. So now, like hot dogs, pets, siblings, mothers and fathers, passwords now have their own day to be celebrated.
Tomorrow, May 5, is World Password Day. It's a day put on by Intel Security that's meant to promote better password habits to keep hackers at bay.
So the real question is, are your passwords any good? You'll want to make sure you avoid these common mistakes:
1. TOO SHORT - When you're making new passwords, eight characters should be the absolute minimum, and 10 to 12 characters is recommended. For super important accounts, such as your banking account, a 14- to 16-character password isn't a bad idea.
2. TOO SIMPLE - A 12-character password isn't going to do much good if it's something as simple as a common phrase like "maytheforcebewithyou." It's something hackers look for right off the bat. Therefore, a strong password needs to have a mix of upper-case and lower-case characters, along with numbers and symbols. However, you can't just get away with simple substitutions like "Mayth3F0rc3Bw!thU!"
3. NOT UNIQUE - As passwords get longer and more complex, it's tempting to use the same password for every account so you only have to remember one. Unfortunately, if you do this and hackers get a hold of your password for one account, say in a data breach, they can log into all your accounts. You need to create unique passwords for every account you have.
4. WRITING PASSWORDS DOWN - Many people create strong, unique passwords and then write them down on sticky notes that they stick on their desk. In some cases, that completely defeats the purpose.
Instead of writing the passwords on a notebook, get a password manager, like Keepass, a program that stores and locks your passwords behind a single Master Password. You can create dozens of strong unique passwords and only need to remember a single password (and you can use our formula in point 2 to make it).
5. NEVER CHANGING PASSWORDS - You might have heard the recommendation that you change your password every six months, three months or even monthly. However, the Federal Trade Commission recently did a study that shows you shouldn't regularly change your password.
Regularly changing passwords is annoying, which leads to people making passwords too simple or reusing them. In fact, people who regularly change their passwords make them 46% easier to guess. In general, you should only change your password if you think it's been involved in a data breach.
That being said, you should take some time to look through your passwords and update the ones you haven't changed in years, especially on a day like today - World Password Day. They probably include some of the mistakes above, and you want them to be as strong as possible.