Why you should have strong and unique passwords?

As life is transforming more and more digital, literally every passing day, the acquired convenience comes with a big concern. The concern is to protect your digital life. Today, a normal (non-geeky) person deals with at least 10-15 web services or applications. Internet savvy people like me deals with over 100 different services on the Internet and it keeps growing. You have accounts for online banking, shopping, utility payment, email, social networks, and cloud storage to count a few. All of these services require you to enter a password to obtain access. In-fact you have to protect your office computer with a password and its highly recommended that you do the same for your personal computer as well. All the personal devices like laptop, tablets, and smart phones should have strong & unique passwords/pin. One should also protect their Wi-Fi network key by a pin or password. The point is, one has to deal with multiple services and devices and mostly forced to have passwords to protect those.

Weak Passwords

Is your password this weak?

Not many would disagree with me when I say that your life may turn upside down if any of these accounts are compromised. For an entry-level hacker, it is a matter of minutes to crack average or rather weak passwords like “Password” or “12345” or “qwerty”. Having passwords which contain easily discoverable (social engineered) personal information are also equally vulnerable. A password that contains dictionary words (in any language) will not help either. Even the variations like reversing the letters in that dictionary word or using common misspellings pose an equal threat. Equipped with advance computers, hackers can exploit enormous computing power to launch a dictionary attack and crack such passwords in a matter of minutes. We hear stories about individuals and big enterprises like Sony, LinkedIn, Adobe, Evernote and many others being hacked every now and then. In short, you are up against major challenge and lousy passwords simply will not do.

Another important aspect is to have unique password for different accounts or at-least for the important ones. It is OK to have the same password for rather less important services that do NOT store personal (social network, photos, and files) or financial (credit card) information like your pizza delivery or free on-line newspaper. However, all your banks, email, social network, photo sharing, cloud storage accounts individually must have strong and unique passwords. This ensures that even if one of these accounts is compromised due to poor security practice of the service provider, you are still in control of the other accounts and damage is limited. Imagine all these services having same passwords and what could happen when someone gets access to all your accounts at once.

Here is a simple checklist of things to avoid to ensure that your passwords do not fall into “weak” category

Finally, a poster of the 500 worst passwords for you to chew on.

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