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How to create a password that’s safe from hackers in 2024

How to create a password that’s safe from hackers in 2024

  • The most common passwords are STILL ‘password’ or ‘123456’ 
  • Criminals rely on this kind of laziness and will crack these passwords first
  • We spoke to experts to find the best way to stay safe when logging in online 

It can take less than six hours to hack 90 per cent of passwords, leaving your online identity, personal data, and bank accounts clicks away from any hacker worth their salt.

Gone are the halcyon days of choosing passwords such as ‘pass’, or your dog’s name followed by ‘123’ without a care in the world.

In 2024, you would be hard pressed to find a platform that doesn’t require eight characters, a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters and at least one special character as a minimum – fido123 just won’t cut it. 

With these seemingly endless stipulations, it is hardly surprising that people choose something like ‘Password123*’ at any available opportunity.

Simple passwords like ‘123456’ and ‘password’ will take hackers a matter of seconds to crack

Making a password complex can certainly give you a headache, but it will also keep you far safer from criminals.

James Millin-Ashmore of Independent Advisor VPN said: ‘Passwords are a common target for hackers, with almost 1,000 attempts to hack account passwords each second. 

‘Despite this, many people aren’t doing the basics to help protect their accounts.

‘Making sure your passwords are strong should be the top priority for any internet user, especially as these sites can hold valuable information.’

So, with robust online security becoming ever more essential to protect your data, and the tools at the disposal of hackers becoming increasingly sophisticated, it pays to know how to set up a strong password and stay one step ahead of those trying to compromise them.

By following certain steps, you can ensure that you and your information are protected online, and that hackers will waste more of their time failing to break through.

Don’t make it easy for hackers

A hacker will often use brute force when trying to crack a password, meaning that they will try every possible combination until they find the right sequence.

This being the case, the more characters in your password, the harder it will be to hack. Independent Advisor VPN recommends aiming for at least 12 characters to keep your data secure.

There are also key passwords to avoid. 

These are the ones that will be cracked by a hacker in a matter of seconds.

It is best to steer clear of common combinations such as ‘1234’ and ‘abcd’, as well as keyboard runs such as ‘qwerty’, as these are often the first passwords that a hacker will check.

Independent Advisor VPN says ‘123456’ is the most common password, and is almost certainly the first port of call for a hacker, in close contention with ‘password’.

Make it as unique as possible, or try a passphrase

The key is to make your passwords as unique as possible. Making use of the character types available to you, you can create a password that mixes upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

Sure, ‘)xF&bE6g*Lk’ might not be quite as catchy or memorable as ‘password123’, but it will also take considerably more effort for a hacker to work it out.

‘Ideal passwords are long, comprise a mix of character types, are devoid of personal or common information, and are unique for each site,’ Simon McNally, cyber security expert at Thales told This is Money.

‘Sticking to a password that uses a passphrase is easier to remember without the compromise of security.’

Passphrases are exactly what they sound like. Instead of using a single word, you can deploy a longer phrase that has the benefit of being harder to crack by brute force, and being far more memorable to the user.

These phrases can also be constructed by substituting letters for the words in the phrase and using acronyms will make this phrase even more secure.

Independent Advisor VPN explains that ‘I want to make a strong password to secure my details’ could become: ‘Iwtmasptsmd’, a seemingly random collection of letters.

Avoid reusing passwords for multiple platforms

Simon McNally recommends using a password manager to protect your data

Reusing a password for more than one platform essentially opens the door for a hacker who has compromised one account, giving them access to every platform that you have used the same password for.

This is where the emphasis on uniqueness comes in. If you are hacked, the hacker will unlikely be able to make multiple attacks.

McNally said: ‘Have you ever used the same key for multiple locks? It’s a risky endeavour because if one lock is picked, all the doors swing wide open. 

‘The same rule applies to your passwords. Passwords should be different everywhere you use them.

‘Password reuse is not a great idea because if you use the same password for all your online accounts and just one gets compromised, all other accounts become jeopardised. 

‘We have seen in recent years that vendors like Apple introduce notifications of password reuse to prevent the ‘one key to open all’ threat.’

Store your passwords safely

Unless you are superhuman, remembering all these unique, random passwords for countless platforms and accounts is nigh on impossible.

You could go old school, noting down your passwords by hand. This does work, of course, and your passwords would generally be protected if kept in the safety of your home.

Instead, the threat here comes from the real world, as placing the access information to all your data in one place could put you at considerable risk in the event of theft.

Alternatively, go for an online password manager. 

While it may feel more risky than putting pen to paper, encrypted password managers actually provide more protection for your information.

Making use of two factor authentication will also add another layer of protection to your passwords.

‘If you want to keep your password safe, don’t leave them out for others to see. If you have trouble remembering all your passwords, a password manager can help you stop the bad habit of reusing passwords,’ McNally said.

‘A password manager assists in generating and retrieving complex passwords, storing such passwords in an encrypted password vault, or even creating secure and complex passwords for you.’

There are multiple products on the market, including free options like NordPass and Bitwarden, or paid-for services such as Dashlane and LastPass.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

The article was first published here

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