With virtually all of our private information now living on the internet, cybersecurity is more important than ever before! May 2nd is World Password Day, and NETGEAR’s security team has compiled the top 4 tips you can use to protect yourself against hackers, starting today.
1. Use a strong password!
That seems obvious, but what exactly makes a password strong? Our best tip is to ensure that your password is at least 12 characters long, containing a mix of random uppercase and lowercase, symbols and numbers.
Should you use your name or birthday? Not unless you want to be easily hacked! Your password should ideally be as random as possible, rather than words that can be found in a dictionary (any dictionary, in any language!) or numbers listed in a row.
And, no, changing the letter E in a word to the number 3, or adding a couple of numbers to the end of a word, isn’t going to be all that helpful, since that “trick” is very common.
But why 12 characters? According to BetterBuys, if a hacker was systematically checking combinations, it would take them just five hours to crack an 8-character password. How much time would it take to crack a 12-character password? 200 years! Seems like the better bet.
Can you guess what the most common (and commonly hacked!) passwords were both in 2017 and in 2018? “123456” and “Password”.
2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Rather than utilizing only username and passwords, many apps and sites will allow you to enable multi-factor or two-factor authentication, which is when you have to prove in multiple ways that you are the authorized user. Commonly used authentication methods in addition to a password are SMS messages, push notifications, one-time passcodes, or GPS locators. Always enable multi-factor authentication when given the option.
3. Change your password frequently
Time is also a major factor. Even if the password you choose is strong and random, passwords weaken over time as technologies, and hackers, evolve, so your best bet would be to change your password frequently — like, on every World Password Day — especially for those accounts protecting your most sensitive information.
4. Never Re-Use Passwords
There’s nothing better than reusing, reducing and recycling! EXCEPT when it comes to passwords, that is.
A recent poll has found that 59% of people reuse the same password across multiple accounts. Reusing one password across multiple accounts can give hackers access to all of those accounts, in credential stuffing attacks.
What is credential stuffing? It is one of the most common techniques used to hack user accounts. When a business improperly protects user passwords and their website is subsequently breached, those compromised usernames and passwords get posted online. Attackers use botnets to then test those stolen credentials against many websites.
How do you know if any of your existing usernames and passwords are out there on the dark web? If you use NETGEAR Armor on your home router, you can easily detect if any of your data has leaked online, right from the app on your smart phone or tablet.
To check the privacy status of any of your accounts, simply add an e-mail address in the Account Privacy section of the Bitdefender for NETGEAR Armor app, available on iOS and Android, and validate that it belongs to you. Once validated, you will then see if the e-mail address is safe or if it was part of any leaks, along with more details. If you find that your information has been compromised, immediately change your passwords.
This World Password Day, use our top tips and take the time to protect yourself and your data!