November 14, 2022•928 words
Every day, we log into many different websites on the internet. Whether it is logging into YouTube to look at that cat video a friend sent you, or you simply want to check your online banking account. With all these accounts, we must remember many different passwords to log in to each one. As a result, we tend to re-use the same passwords because it is just way more convenient than having many different passwords that you'll ultimately forget.
The problem with re-using the same passwords
Chances are that most people who are reading this article are re-using the same password for every single account they have made online. Or they may use a slight variation of that password for other accounts that includes a different name of a relative, friend or an important birthdate. The truth is, these types of passwords are not secure at all and the problem of re-using the same passwords is that once a hacker gains access to one account, they then have access all your other accounts.
Passwords have a vital role in our online security. They are our first line of defence to stop hackers from gaining access to our social media accounts, work accounts and even our online banking. Insecure passwords mean that hackers have a better chance of brute forcing your passwords so they can steal all your confidential information and even your identity.
According to Nord Security - the company behind NordPass and NordVPN, some of the most commonly used passwords in 2022 are:
If you use any of these passwords, they can easily be guessed by a hacker in less than a second and you should really consider using a password manager.
What is a password manager?
A password manager is an application that you install on your computer, mobile phone, or any other device you may have, that creates a secure encrypted vault for all your passwords. They are locked by a master password and is synchronised across all your devices. When a password manager is installed on your device, it can create secure logins for your accounts by generating a strong password (usually made up of random letters, numbers, and symbols) and even autofill your login information into websites.
For extra security, make sure you copy and paste your login information from your manager into the website manually, instead of the manager auto filling passwords for you. A password manager gives you the convenience of never having to remember any password, while keeping all your accounts secure.
Creating a secure master password
As a password manager is a digital vault for all your logins, your master password is the only password that you will ever need to remember. This means it needs to be unique and long to remain secure.
When making a master password, bear in mind that:
- It should be at least twenty characters long – This is to ensure a hacker cannot easily guess or brute force the password.
- Do not include generic words or dates – Words like “password” or birth dates can easily be guessed by hackers in a matter of seconds.
- Unique – Your master password should be a completely brand-new password that you have never used on any other account.
As well as being long, your master password should also be as random as possible. An effective way to make a random yet secure password, is to use a phrase that does not make any sense but is easy to remember.
An example of this could be:
- Pencil sharpeners are made of chocolate buttons
This example master password is very random and secure, yet it is easy to remember. Having a password like this reduces the chance that a hacker can guess or brute force their way into obtaining it to unlock the vault.
Are password managers safe?
It is a legitimate question to ask because password managers store all your account passwords, and a hacker could theoretically try to gain access and steal all your passwords from the manager. However, it is very unlikely to happen because when you lock your password manager’s vault, all the data inside is heavily encrypted and becomes unreadable. Depending on the strength of the encryption used and how long your master password is, a hacker would need to break the encryption algorithm set by the manager and this can be impossible to crack.
Using a password manager from a trusted company like Bitwarden or 1Password, is also considered to be more safe because any vulnerabilities that are discovered in the application are usually patched fairly quickly, thus eliminating any threats that could compromise your data. Furthermore, it is always important to research whether a password manager uses zero knowledge encryption to secure your data so that even the company behind the manager cannot snoop around in your vault.
Password managers are a fantastic way to strengthen your online security by allowing you to generate strong and unique passwords for all your personal accounts, thus minimising the risk of your important data and identity being stolen by hackers. They also provide convenience because they will automatically save any new logins you create and autofill them into websites for you. The only password you will ever need to remember is the master password to your vault. Continuing to re-use insecure passwords for every account you have, will keep your important data at risk.