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How to Create, Manage and Store Passwords Securely

As more people store their sensitive personal data online, more criminals have turned to hack and other cybersecurity exploits to rob people of their resources. The easiest way to mitigate hacking attempts is to create robust, unique passwords for each online account you create.

Why are strong passwords so pivotal?

A good password is the most reliable form of defense against online intrusions. Without the correct password, there is no chance for a hacker to access your physical hardware or digital accounts. Not only is it vital to create robust passwords on a personal level, but small business owners need to consider their entire companies as well.

Small businesses are prone to cybersecurity attacks since they often don’t have the extra funds to spare on electronic protection. Verizon has reported that 43% of all data breaches occurred at the small business level in 2019. In addition to lukewarm security, small companies often have a sizeable list of clients with data stored on local servers. This can make pilfering these records quite lucrative for anyone with the know-how.

The most common ways that hackers acquire your password

To create a formidable password, it is beneficial to look at the most notable ways a hacker will come across your password.

1. Data Leaks

Every once in a while, large companies get hacked and millions of passwords are posted on the web. It doesn’t take long for criminals to scour these password lists for viable victims. Although users are prompted to change their passwords for the account that got hacked, many people use the same passwords on multiple sites. If you have the same password elsewhere, the hacker can now log in to that profile as well.

2. Forcing it

There are special bots and software tools that can be used to crack a password with brute force. These programs can test millions of password combinations a second until the right one is stumbled upon. The shorter your password, the easier it will be to access the account before it is flagged for too many login attempts.

3. Tracking your input

Hackers can also employ a type of malware known as a keylogger. This program hides on your computer and records all of the keystrokes that you make. Once a hacker observes the passwords you use to log in to your online accounts, they can easily access your profile from anywhere.

4. Scams and malicious links

Have you ever seen ads claiming to give away free phones or $1000 gift cards? Many scammers use false advertising to get unsuspecting users to click there links and divulge personal information. It is also common to see scammers pretending to be a reputable brand or service provider. If you give your details away without verifying your connection, you are opening yourself up to identity theft.

How to create a durable password

A strong password is challenging for both humans and AI to guess. Since hacking tools have become so advanced, it takes a truly impressive password to keep your information private. Here are a few key points to nail when updating your existing passwords.

1. Make it as long as possible

When creating a new password, many people are taken aback when the field allows them to enter up to 20 characters. Although that may seem like too many, it is a great length to set your codes. With each new character, a password is much more challenging for a computer to crack open with brute force. While you should strive for at least 16 characters, it is best to max out the character limit of each service you log into.

2. Always be unique

As tempting as it is to reuse old passwords, it opens you up to data breaches. If all of your accounts have their own passwords, any data leak is compartmentalized be default. To make it easier to remember each password, use one of the myriad password managers available for both computers and mobile phones.

3. Use random generation

There are plenty of tools that will generate a random string of characters for you. This is an excellent resource for crafting a truly random password. When trying to create a password manually, your brain is prone to set the sequence with a pattern. These patterns are easier for others to recognize than you may think. For maximum safety, use a random generator when forming new password strings.

Using a password manager

The most common mistake people make when storing their unique passwords is using an easily readable text file. These files are simple to access for any hacker interested in gaining your credentials. To keep your password straight, always use management software to automate the process.

These programs offer encryption for each of your sensitive passwords. Data encryption makes your passwords nearly impossible to hack. Once you enable 2FA on your manager, only you will be able to access the program. While each service is largely the same, there are a few differences to consider when choosing a password solution.

For instance, when comparing LastPass to 1password, you will see that LastPass offers up a completely free version while 1password only gives you a free 30-day trial. It is worth researching each service to see which one suits your needs.

Carolyn Coley is a blockchain reporter. She joined Smartereum after graduating from UC Berkeley in 2018.

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