Internet security has always been a continuously evolving issue we’ve all had to deal with at one point or another. There are new and stronger security measures created on a daily basis, and yet they keep being overridden by crackers all over the world. This is usually not due to the security strength of the server or the code on it. It usually comes down to the user and what password he or she has chosen for the account. You might start to wonder how clever people think they are when they choose passwords like “123456” and “password” and think it’s a good decision. The thing is, your password strength is only as hard to crack as it is for you to remember. The harder it is to remember, the harder it will be to crack. It’s as simple as that.
There is a significant password strength increase when you go from 5 to 6 characters in your password. And when you hit 9 characters (upper case password), it will take a computer approximately 178 years to crack it. That should be enough time to spend on whatever you want to do on the Internet, wouldn’t you think? So, if you are one of those people who is sporting a somewhat weak (according to this infographic) password on your different online services, it’s a good time to change them all.
Password strength comes down to creativity. Family members, keyboard patterns and swipes are infinitely out of the question. These are the first words a cracker tries, and you would be surprised if you knew how many people set their password strength to an almost playful challenge for a cracker. An infographic from SecurityCoverage (design by Space Chimp Media) showcases data from a few of the largest password breaches in the history of the Internet. The interesting thing is that out of the 30 million accounts that were cracked on RockYou.com, an insane 290,731 people had the password “123456.” My head spun out of orbit over that.
Do yourself a huge favor and take a gander at your password farm and see if you can’t extend them to 9 characters (and to include upper case letters and symbols), and you could probably give crackers a headache for at least 178 years or so. Make sure your password strength is up to par with the level of personal information you have submitted to your online services. You will definitely save yourself a lot of time and sorrow by taking ten minutes to up your password strength and look through them all every once in a while. Once again remember, your password strength is only as good as it is hard to remember the password itself.
There is an interesting misconception I would like to address while we’re at the subject. People seem to think that hackers are the ones who breach your security measures to steal, modify or delete your information, but that is not the reality of it. Here are a couple of simple explanations to what each word means, and what they should be synonymous with.
Hacker: “A hacker is a person who is proficient with computers and/or programming to an elite level where they know all of the in’s and out’s of a system. There is NO illegality involved with being a hacker.” – Answers.com
Cracker: “A cracker is a hacker who uses their proficiency for personal gains outside of the law. EX: stealing data, changing bank accounts, distributing viruses etc.” – Answers.com
SecurityCoverage’s Password Strength Infographic
(Click To Enlarge)