Learn the 10 signs of a weak password.

Top 10 Signs Your Password is Weak

In the past, online banking institutions have had to shut down their online accessibility due to continual hacking from outside sources. Even the most highly secured systems on the Internet struggle with cyber-attacks and hackers that can easily gain access into their servers. Likewise, individuals and companies must be continuously on guard to build a strong wall of defense. This will safeguard against hackers that mean to do harm by gaining unauthorized access into the company intranet servers or online account.

Passwords are the first level of security that provide protection against any hacker or individual attempting to gain unauthorized access into an account or computer. Passwords that are built to be strong can safeguard against malicious software and viruses. It is important to create strong passwords for every account on the computer or online. Individuals that work on a corporate network are often at the mercy of the network administrator that often demands that a strong password be created.

There are specific examples when a password is simply too weak to maintain a high level of security. These would include:

  • Dictionary Words – When an individual creates a password using words out of the dictionary, it is extremely easy for a hacker to decipher. These include words in any language, out of any dictionary.
  • Replacement Characters – Hackers often seek out passwords that are created using dictionary words with replacement characters. An example would be “Fav0rit3_D0g” or “A1rplan3”
  • Repeating Characters – One of the easiest passwords to decipher is one that is built on repeating characters, or characters that are positioned in a series. These would often include “AAAAAAA”, “12345”, or “abcdef”.
  • Personal Identifiable Information – Both in-house and online hackers often seek out personal information including names of friends or pets, birthdays, Social Security numbers, personal addresses or any data that can identify the user. Many people use any one of these components to create an ineffective, weak password that is extremely easy to decipher.
  • A Simple Pass Phrase – Individuals that use a simple pass phrase instead of a password quite often experience a compromise or breach of their online accounts or computer. An example of a simple pass phrase might be “Ilovemydog”. Additionally, any common phrase out of a book, movie or other source should be avoided at all costs.
  • Incorporating the Username – Utilizing any part of the username in any form (i.e. all capitals, doubled, reversed) should be avoided.
  • Written Down Passwords – Passwords that are written down are totally useless. Many individuals that find it difficult to remember one or more passwords will simply write sticky Post-it notes and place them somewhere around the computer. Writing down a password is one of the weakest ways to protect accessibility into the company intranet or online account.
  • Stored Passwords – Many individuals will keep track of their many passwords by storing them in a text file and placing them in a folder on a PC computer or the company intranet. This is usually the first place that a cyber-hacker will look to obtain critical passwords to gain unauthorized access into the Internet or online account.
  • Minimal Characters – While using no password at all is the weakest way to protect confidential or personal information, minimal characters are not much better. Any password that is created using six characters or less is highly ineffective and extremely easy to crack.
  • An Already Compromised Password – Sharing a password with another individual for any reason will instantly compromise its strength. When more than one individual has access to a password, the entire system can be breached.

The strength of a password remains the key focus for many individuals and companies that require authentication to gain access into an Internet or online account. This is a result of attempting to protect against cyber attacks through brute force, social engineering, rainbow techniques, and others.

It is important to select a password of a proper length (seven characters or more). Additionally, it should be formed out of a variety of upper and lower case letters of the alphabet along with at least one number (zero-nine) and a special character (}:{&*^$%#@!). 

To create the ultimate security on an online account, or access into a computer, the user company should incorporate two-factor authentication. Adding an additional layer of credentials minimizes the potential for security breach. Two-factor authentication can be applied using USB tokens, swipe cards, biometric systems, or other software/hardware components.

The second layer of authentication is usually performed by inputting “something the individual has” (audio port token, swipe card, and others). It can also be performed by inputting “something the individual is” (fingerprint or iris scan). By adding complexity to gain access into confidential or personal accounts, the actions of cyber-thieves can be thwarted, while the information is protected.

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