“Use eight or more characters with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols,” “password strength: weak,” “your password has expired,” and a lot more has become the new normal for all of us. However, the same set of instructions tend to annoy us, especially when we are creating an account online and need a password that we can easily remember. But the irony is that we never get the best password in the first shot. Honestly, I struggle a lot while selecting a password that is unique, strong, and something that I can easily recall.

Today when the world is operating at the click of a button, frequent password mistakes can leave you vulnerable to hackers. Believe it or not, but one of the most common ways people make themselves prone to cyber frauds is by committing password mistakes.

The next time you log on to the internet, remember your passwords are the key to information related to you. Right from your shopping accounts, bank accounts, to your medical details, every information can be stolen and misused if not secured with the right password practices.

I am sure a lot of us think that our passwords are unique and a well-kept secret; hence, I am never going to be a victim of any sort of password fraud. But how true is that?

Honestly, if you feel so, it is time to get a heads-up and reconsider the password scenes in your life.

What is so special about the World Password Day?

Let us begin with some interesting password trivia.

1. Did you know, 3.2 million accounts out of 130 million that were stolen in the Adobe hack back in 2013 had the following user passwords – “123456,” “12345678,” “Password.”

2. A Skyhigh Network analysis carried out on 11 million stolen passwords for cloud services conclude that about 20 passwords make up 10.3% of all passwords in use.

3. As per experts, to stay away from being compromised by brute-force cracking is to have a password length of 13 characters.

What is brute-force cracking?

In simple terms, a brute-force attack is nothing but a trial and error formula used by application programs to decode encrypted data such as passwords by using exhaustive efforts or brute force. It is a technique that uses several permutations and combinations to decrypt passwords.

Generally, the World Password Day falls on the first Thursday of May. It is celebrated to remind millions of users of the importance of protecting their information on the web with the use of strong passwords.

Digitization is on the rise, and so is the need to have strong and secure passwords. As the use of the internet is increasing at a rapid pace, digital protection is inevitable. Even with the presence of high-end security software and applications, protecting your identity on the web demands strong and frequently changed passwords.

Why are strong passwords recommended?

As per research, about 50% of people connected to the digital world use a single password for multiple accounts. Now that is scary. This practice of using the same password universally can put the user in severe trouble by making all his accounts vulnerable.

The consequences

Do you know what happens to your information once your password is hacked? Threat actors sell that information on the dark web. Post which cybercriminals use these details as a breakthrough and try and login to as many accounts as possible.

Another study on passwords reveals that most people use very common and easy to remember passwords that are weak and very easy to be decoded. This is where cybercriminals make the most of the brute force attack until they find a password that actually works.

Most common password mistakes to avoid

Data is the new gold, and nowadays, cybercriminals also follow people on social media just to get a hint of keywords that can further be fed to malicious programs that use machine intelligence until the encryption is decoded. Believe it or not, this can lead to unimaginable losses, sometimes unrecoverable.

So here is what you need to avoid,

1. Avoid using a single password universally

Well, yes, we understand it is absolutely feasible to remember one password and not find difficulty in logging into any online account. But think again. Using a single password can work as a passport for cybercriminals and can be disastrous.

2. Refrain from changing passwords too often

It is a good practice to change passwords after a certain interval. However, changing them too often can be counterproductive. Changed passwords have chances of getting forgotten and can easily be stolen.

3. Steer clear of making your passwords too complicated

The definition of a strong and unique password is not complexity. A lot of us feel that adding too many symbols and special characters might make passwords more secure. But the key is to keep them simple but smart.

Studies carried out on arbitrary passwords that demand symbols and use of uppercase and lowercase letters repeatedly are found to result in less secure passwords.

4. Get your passwords screened without fail

As per the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), comparing your password against the ones listed in the commonly used category can make a significant difference. You can easily find several websites to verify this data.

5. Recycling is a strict no

Using the same password for different platforms can be extremely dangerous and can make your emails, banking, and social media accounts vulnerable. Well, even if you have not used that particular password in ages, it is highly recommended not to reuse it as once a password is stolen, it can be used in mysterious ways.

6. Avoid obvious passwords

A lot of us usually keep the names of our loved ones or pets with a combination of birth dates or anniversary dates to make passwords unique yet easy to remember. But is that the right thing to do? Absolutely not. Doing so can make the job of brute force attack extremely easy.

7. Think twice before storing a password list on your device

A password cheat sheet is convenient, but storing it on your electronic device can be dangerous. If a password list is on the device and the system is infected, you are doomed. So, a handwritten and well-hidden password cheat sheet is more recommended.

The cost of one little mistake can be devastating. It can have your social media accounts used inappropriately, or you might wake up to empty bank accounts, and it will be very late until you find out—it was a password mistake that did it all.

So, this World Password Day, let us pledge to make password good practices a habit and avoid the worst passwords like the plague, literally.