By Devon Delfino for Business Insider US
Creating and maintaining secure passwords may seem like a hassle, but it’s a modern necessity if you want to keep your information safe.
To help you understand what makes a secure password, and how to validate the strength of your password using online security tools like NordPass, here’s a quick breakdown of everything you should know about safeguarding your online identity.
How to ensure your password is secure
The core characteristics of a strong password is length (NordPass suggests 12 or more characters) and an unpredictable mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols, with no ties to obvious personal information.
Most people are aware of the basics of password best practices: It shouldn’t include something that’s easy to guess, like names of children, birthdays, or house numbers. And you should never use commonly used passwords, or variations of them. Avoid the likes of “password” and “PaSSw0rd,” or “123456” and “123456-Devon,” for instance.
Beyond creating an unpredictable sequence of letters and numbers that meaningful to you and only you, there are other tips to help keep your password strong and secure:
- Don’t reuse passwords: Different passwords for different accounts is always a good idea. That way, if one account is compromised, the breach is contained.
- Don’t write your password down: While it may seem like a good idea to have a physical copy of your usernames and passwords for quick reference, this can open you up to security issues in the real world.
- Use a password manager: A password manager is a solid tool that can help keep you organised. These store your various passwords in a secure account, and typically provide a simple solution for easily storing, managing and filling in your passwords. Some examples of password managers include NordPass and LastPass.
How to check your password’s strength and security
There are many web-based tools that can help rate your password strength, but it’s important to choose one that you trust with your credentials.
An industry-trusted password checker you can use is one from NordPass, a password management tool by the VPN service provider NordVPN.
To understand how NordPass rates your password strength, it’s important to learn the main methods hackers use to steal passwords.
These methods include:
- Brute force attack: This is when someone tries to simply guess your username and password using trial and error, via a computer program. This allows a hacker to try many different combinations of your login information.
- Dictionary attack: This attack type is a systematic way of guessing passwords, and typically employs commonly used passwords (like variations of “p@ssworD.”)
- Phishing techniques: This is when someone tries to get you to reveal your personal information, like your social security number or passwords, via email or text message. The key here is that phishing scams can look like they’re coming from a company you trust or know.
- Credential stuffing: When a companies’ security is compromised, users are left potentially open to credential stuffing. That’s when people purchase your compromised information off the dark web and then use the login from that source to try to access other accounts on popular websites. So if you re-use your passwords for multiple accounts, you can leave yourself open to this method of digital theft.
With that in mind, here’s how to use NordPass’s online strength checker tool:
- Go to the Nordpass secure password page and click “No, use online strength checker.”
- Input your password in the text bar.
- Nordpass will immediately rate it for you, and provide information about your password composition, an estimate of how long it would take someone to crack your password, and if your password had been previously exposed in a data breach.