On 1. February is the "change-your-password-day". Background for this day: Many internet users use only simple passwords to protect their data or they use one and the same password for all services. Here we explain how to create a secure password and how to protect your log-in data.
The requirements for a good password are clear: You must be able to remember the password well – and of course it should be as secure as possible in order to protect your accounts from access by strangers.
- Long passwords are better than short ones, at least ten characters are optimal.
- A mixed composition of the characters makes sense. A mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters is best.
- Avoid words from the dictionary.
- For outsiders the password should make as little sense as possible.
- Do not use the same passwords for different services.
- The more sensitive an access is (for example with online banking), the more important is a secure password.
For a long time, the recommendation was to change one’s passwords regularly. The experts of the German Federal Office for Information Security now no longer advise this practice. At least not if your passwords meet the above criteria. If this is not the case, the "change-your-password tag" is a good reason to take care of secure passwords.
Be inventive in your password search
Consumers should be inventive when creating them. The goal when choosing a password: The chosen word should only make sense to you. One way is to think of a sentence and replace the first letters of every second word with numbers. Another way is to "randomly choose 5-6 words from the dictionary and separate them with a space. This results in a password that is easy to remember, easy to type, and hard for attackers to break", according to the tip of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).
Keep password lists secret
Keep your passwords in a protected place – not on a piece of paper stuck to your computer, not in your wallet or in your calendar. If you store passwords on your computer or cell phone, never store them in an unprotected file. Experts also advise not to send passwords by mail or text message.
The most popular German passwords 2021
HPI publishes the top 10 passwords of the Germans every year. These are examples of how passwords do not look like should: Number combination like "123456" or common words like "berlin or "hello should be taboo when choosing a password. Your first name, pet’s name or date of birth are not a good idea either.
Are password managers useful?
Yes, those who need many passwords and have difficulty remembering them are well advised to use a password manager. For a password manager you need a central and especially secure password to start the software and to have access to the stored passwords.
Recommended password managers are z.B. 1Password, LastPass Premium or KeePassXC.
Has my account been hacked?
The risk of being hacked and becoming a victim of a cyber attack is high, even for private individuals. The Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) draws attention to this fact. If you want to know whether your own user account is possibly affected, you can check this yourself. There are several platforms on the Internet for this: