Passwords to avoid – unless you want to be hacked

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The importance of strong passwords cannot be overstated in today’s digital age. Cybercrime is a continuing threat to online security, and with the rise of remote work and e-commerce, it has become more critical than ever to take steps to protect your online accounts.

A recent study by Custard Technical Services has tested passwords across 25 countries in Europe to reveal the residents with the best and worst cyber security. Austria was found to be most at risk of online threats, with the average time to crack the top thirty passwords standing at 0.27 seconds. Russia has the second worst cybersecurity, with the top thirty passwords taking just 8.96 seconds on average to crack.

According to NordPass, the top most commonly used passwords across all countries in the world are ‘123456,’ ‘123456789,’ ‘12345,’ ‘qwerty,’ and ‘password.’ It’s concerning that these passwords remain so common despite the continuous warnings from industry experts about the consequences of irresponsible password management.

Passwords are the first line of defense against hackers, and weak passwords are an open invitation for cybercriminals to access your online accounts. In 2021, there was a 50% increase in cyber attacks on company networks over 2020, with selling stolen data being a driving force behind these increases. Hackers can make millions from compromised accounts, and it’s predicted that in 2023 alone, cybercriminals will steal around 33 billion records online.

For people at home, a data breach could result in compromised bank account details and unauthorized purchases. For business users, a breach could lead to lost data, leaked confidential information, and significant financial losses. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your online accounts are protected with strong, unique passwords.

Here are some essential tips to help improve your password “hygiene”:

  1. Use strong, unique passwords, and never reuse them. Avoid using easily guessable information such as your birthdate or pet’s name. Instead, use a combination of letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and symbols.
  2. Create longer passwords. The longer your password, the harder it is for hackers to crack it. Passwords should be at least 16 characters long.
  3. Avoid using common passwords. The use of predictable passwords such as ‘123456’ or ‘password’ is a common mistake that hackers take advantage of. Instead, try using a combination of unrelated words or phrases that are easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess.
  4. Use a password manager. Password managers are tools that generate and store complex passwords for you, eliminating the need to remember multiple passwords.
  5. Be aware of all accounts that are in your possession. Delete unused accounts and keep track of active accounts to prevent gaps in your password management.
  6. Enable two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second method of authentication, such as a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password.

In conclusion, by following these best practices for creating and managing passwords, you can better protect your online accounts and sensitive information from cybercriminals. It is up to each individual user to take responsibility for their own cybersecurity, and the first step is to ensure that strong passwords are in place.

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