Password or online life: how to protect yourself from new threats on the Internet

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We all have passwords. If you use the Internet for any length of time, you will probably have dozens or even hundreds of passwords from different sites. We use passwords so often that it’s easy to forget that hackers and cyber fraudsters are just waiting for us to let our guard down.

A compromised password can lead to an awkward, but generally uncritical situation when spam is sent on your behalf on some social network. But in some cases, the consequences will be much more serious, especially if a hacker gains access to your money or confidential information that is in your mail or cloud storage.

But the good news is that a couple of simple steps are enough to significantly reduce the risk of your accounts being compromised.

Why are passwords so important?

Every time you log in to a site or application, you answer two questions: “Who are you?” and “How can you prove that it is you?”

To the question “Who are you?” just answer. Typically, this requires leaving your email address, phone number, or username that you provided when registering your account. But the email address is not such a secret – we reveal it every time we send an email to someone.

Therefore, we also need to present the so-called “authentication factor”. It could be something that you know – a password, that you have – a key or an identifier, or some part of you – a fingerprint. The most frequent authentication factor today is password, which is why I wrote this post.

It is assumed that only you and the site or application where you are logged in know the password. But if someone else finds out the password, it doesn’t cost them anything to log in on your behalf. This is where most of us get into trouble.

Hackers against passwords

There is a halo of mysterious forces of evil around hackers, but the truth is that they are people like you and me, and like us – they are always looking for ways to do their job more efficiently.

Often, the first thing a hacker does is check to see if a well-known password has been chosen. According to Cyber News , the most commonly used password is “123456”. If you now have such a password somewhere, I have bad news for you: it is this password that hackers will check first if they want to hack your account. End of the game.

If that doesn’t work, hackers will most likely resort to credential stuffing. Over the years, billions of username / password combinations have been merged or hacked on a wide variety of sites, and many people use the same combination on multiple sites at once. If you created an account on site A, and then used the same mail and password to register on site B, then any hacker that hacks site A will get everything they need to access your account on both sites. There are free services where you can check if your email and password were disclosed during known leaks. An example of such a service is Have I Been Pawned .

How to choose a strong password

To avoid the sad scenarios I mentioned above, choosing a password should take into account the following criteria:

The password must be unique . For each site, you need to choose a new password, which you have not used anywhere else.

The password must be completely random. Do not include any personal information such as names or dates of birth in your password.

The password must be at least 16 characters long. This makes it harder for hackers to guess or brute force .

If you think this is too difficult, you are not alone! No one can remember enough of these passwords to protect themselves on the Internet. The good news is that there are tools out there that make it easy to manage your accounts while also freeing up space in your head for more important things like birthdays and weekend plans.

I recommend using password managers like 1Password , LastPass, or Dash lane . These tools are designed to manage your passwords and keep them safe. Plus, they can be used across multiple devices. If you don’t want to use a password manager, you can write passwords in a notepad. In this case, it is important to keep your notebook in a safe place. Do not store passwords in mail, cloud storage, or online notes.

Summarizing

We often don’t feel like messing around with passwords because it’s a chore. And so it is! But it is very important that you handle them properly. This is the only way you can protect your online life from hackers. If you understand how hackers work, start using a password manager or create a separate notebook for them, you can significantly protect yourself on the Internet and sleep a little more peacefully at night.

 

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