Is your password actually safe? The sheer number of data breaches and leaks have made it all too likely that your password is floating around somewhere on the internet — just waiting to be accessed by an ambitious hacker.
A staggering amount of passwords have been found to be vulnerable by security researchers at Google. And now, it’s offering a tool that will scan your passwords to see if any of them are putting you at risk.
If you’re a Google Chrome user, try this out. The longer your weak passwords remain unchanged, the greater your risk of identity theft, hacking and account hijacking.
Try Google’s Password Checkup tool
When’s the last time you changed your passwords? Be honest. If your answer is “Uh, I can’t remember,” there’s a good chance the letters, numbers and characters you use to protect your online accounts are floating around the Dark Web.
Enter Google’s tool to help you find out. This extension for its Chrome browser automatically scans the passwords typed by users, checks them against known leaked databases and reveals if any have been compromised or stolen.
This extension, Password Checkup, is available as a free download for any and all Chrome users.
How effective is it? In the first month alone, Google scanned 21 million usernames and passwords and flagged over 316,000 as unsafe.
That equates to 1.5% of the sample size having been compromised in some form. Given the enormous number of data leaks and breaches, we’re willing to bet that number is much higher.
How can I check my passwords for security?
The Google Password Checkup extension is available as a free download for Google Chrome users.
To install, click the link above and hit “Add to Chrome.”
Once the extension is installed, it automatically scans passwords as you enter them to log in. If it finds a match against a known password from its list, you’ll receive an alert to change your password, as well as some suggestions to make your new password more secure.
As for creating new passwords:
- Skip common passwords for the sake of convenience, like “123456” and “password.” These are never, ever secure enough to use.
- Try using a phrase instead of a word.
- Substitute characters for others that look similar, like a letter O for a zero.
- Don’t use the same password on different websites. A hacker can gain access to one and now has the key to another.
Ultimately, keeping track of your passwords and making sure they’re secure should be a normal part of your cybersecurity precautions. Google’s tool just makes the process a whole lot less painful.
As passwords give way to biometric verification, the least we can do in the meantime is to make sure the ones we use matter. Otherwise, we’re just sitting ducks for the hackers and cybercriminals of the world to pick off — and nobody wants that.