What makes a secure password?
Many people underestimate how important it is to choose a secure password. Of course, you can simply remember the names or birth dates of your own children as a password, but this is an easy game for hackers. If you think up long, complex and individual passwords, you can protect yourself better against data theft. A strong password contains all character classes, i.e. upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and special characters. Passphrases are also a good solution for a secure code. Form a sentence and use only the first letters of the individual words. From "When I was five years old, I lived at 34 Lindenstrasse" the hard-to-crack password "M5J,hindL34g".
The harder it is to remember a password, the more difficult it is for criminals to crack it. For each important Internet service such as e-mail account or online banking, a different password should therefore be used that is as complicated as possible (meaningless combinations of numbers and characters).
Five tips for a secure password
1. Use each password only once
In the meantime, it feels like you have to register everywhere. This requires an e-mail address as well as a password. But no matter how easy and convenient it is, the same password should not be used for different online services. Most people choose passwords that are easy to remember, after that they are usually not changed. But this is exactly how you run the risk of your personal data being hacked.
Once a simple password is cracked, cyber criminals have access to many pages as well as data in one fell swoop. And this can happen faster than you think, because every day personal data is captured by cyber attacks and published in databases on the net. The Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Engineering in Potsdam, Germany, currently lists no less than twelve billion user accounts that were captured and published by hackers during cyber attacks with its Identity Leak Checker. Hence the tip from security experts: Use an individual password for each service! If the credentials are cracked or stolen once, only this one service is affected, the others are still secure.
With the free service "Identity Leak Checker" from the Hasso Plattner Institute you can find out if your identity data has already been spied on.
To the free Identity Leak Checker:
2. Choose a secure password
When choosing a password, make sure you have a wide variation. It is recommended to use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. The length of the password is also crucial. If you can only specify eight to twelve characters, all four character types should be used. For passwords with 20 to 25 characters, it is sufficient to choose two of the character types. But here you can also think of a passphrase, i.e. a sentence as a password:"Ich mag Kakao_mit 2 Lopen Pulver", this results in the password: ImK_m2LP. It is best if the sentence does not make sense, it should not come from a poem, song, book or movie.
The longer a password is, the more difficult it is for hackers to guess it. Passwords that consist of strings of numbers or letters such as "123456" or "password and "qwertz are too simple and can be cracked quickly. Names or simple words are also not a good choice, because especially terms that can be found in the dictionary can be guessed quickly and easily.
3. Password manager as a digital safe
A password is secure if it is unique: A separate password is therefore mandatory for every online service! Since it is impossible to remember all passwords for all services, there are special programs that help with that. The small digital assistants, so-called password managers, encrypt and securely store all access data for all services used. There are now many providers of password managers with different features, paid, but also free of charge. Some of them are for example LastPass, Dashlane, Bitwarden, 1Password or the freeware KeePass. Access to the password manager is protected with a master password, which in turn can be additionally strengthened by a key file stored on a USB stick, explains the portal "it-daily.net.".
4. Two-factor authentication
In addition to a strong password, the key to greater security on the Internet is two-factor authentication. If this option is available, there is a high security gain. Then, when logging in, you not only have to enter your password, but also a one-time code that is sent to you, for example, via smartphone app or text message. In addition, Face ID or fingerprint functions are also becoming increasingly popular. The additional effort is small, because you usually have to log in only once per device. If this option is offered, it should be enabled, as it can further increase the security of one’s account. Because even if a hacker steals the password, he cannot do anything with it. When trying to log in, he must enter the additional code.
5. Change only insecure passwords
With the "Change your password tag" am 01. February has long been recommended to change your passwords regularly. But in the meantime, experts from the German Federal Office for Information Security have moved away from it. If a password meets all the criteria for a secure password, it can be used for years to come. On the contrary, changing passwords too often can also have pitfalls. Those who regularly change passwords tend to use simpler, easier passwords. In addition, often only small things are changed. This is how "Buttercup0304" becomes then "Buttercup 0305. The BSI therefore advises you to change passwords only if your account has been locked and you are asked to do so, or if a password has already fallen into someone else’s hands.
List of the most commonly used insecure passwords
This should bring tears to the eyes of security companies. Also in 2021, many Internet users used insecure passwords. Once again, the number combination "123456" is in first place, but 2nd and 3rd place are not much more creative either.
TOP TEN most popular passwords 2021 in Germany:
(determined by the Hasso Plattner Institute)
If you find your password in the list, use this as an opportunity to change it. With our tips you can easily create a secure password.