Secure your digital life today – Why password management is so important
Everybody knows that passwords are important. You should not use the same one for multiple accounts, and it should be something that can’t be guessed yet still easy to remember. This blog aims to help you understand the importance of having different passwords, when to use a complex or simple password, and what makes a password secure. To keep this post at a readable size, I won’t delve into password management tools like KeePass or LastPass. These will be part of another post later this year.
Why should I use different passwords?
In our daily online lives, we are constantly confronted with login screens and the requirement to open accounts so we can access what we want to see or have. To reduce the complexity of our lives, we tend to either use the same login credentials (username:password) for different purposes or rely on big portals like Amazon, Google, and Meta, which provide everything in one place, so we don’t need multiple logins. Both workarounds carry risks that users need to accept or mitigate:
- Reusing credentials:
Using the same credentials multiple times carries the risk that if one of the platforms is hacked, the stolen credentials can be used to access your accounts on multiple other websites. For instance, if someone knows your LinkedIn credentials, they can simply try to log in to Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and other platforms. Imagine losing control over all these accounts just because you were unwilling to use different passwords. Chances are, you might not even remember where you’ve used this username:password combination within the last five years.
- Data Collection by Large Portals:
Relying solely on big portals allows providers to learn everything about you by collecting data about your purchases, wish lists, searches, and more. Take Amazon, for example. They recently acquired the vacuum robot manufacturer iRobot. At first glance, this might not seem like a big deal. However, consider that Amazon, which already knows what books you read, clothes you wear, music you listen to, and gadgets you use, now also has access to the detailed floor plan of your home. Moreover, it will know immediately when you rearrange your furniture, as Roomba updates the floor map every time it cleans. Some models even have cameras for better navigation, but it’s unclear what AI is extracting from this video stream. While the topic here is password management, it’s essential to be aware of potential privacy concerns with large corporations.
When should I use a long complex password?
Not every password has to be super complex by default. Consider WHAT you’re protecting with it and whether there are other security features to help safeguard your data. For example, consider the account password for your preferred streaming provider. What’s the worst thing that could happen if someone hacks this account? Your bookmarked movies, watched film history, or other data might be lost, or someone could change your subscription to a different package. The financial risk is relatively acceptable, I’d say. Also, remember that you’ll need to enter the password using your TV remote control, so a 20-character password with numbers and capital letters might not be necessary.
On the other hand, your email account is a very delicate login. With access to your email, someone can reset passwords for other accounts and act in your name. It’s very close to having a stolen identity. In this case, you should use a long, complex password or even add a second verification level with multi-factor authentication (MFA).
That brings me to the last point:
What makes a password secure?
Most people don’t realize that a long and simple password can be more secure than a short and complex one. To prove this, let’s use some simple math.
Take the password “K0mpLEx!”, for example. The variables in this equation are:
- 8 characters in length
- 52 characters (alphabet, both lowercase and uppercase)
- 10 numbers
- 16 special characters This gives us 78 different characters and (78^8) 1.3701 x 10^15 possibilities. A modern computer will need approximately 7 days to complete this equation and find your password.
In our second example, we use “thisisyoureasytorememberpassword”:
- 32 characters in length
- 26 characters (alphabet only, lowercase)
- No numbers
- No special characters Now we have 26 different characters with (26^32) 1.9017 x 10^45 possibilities. Even the latest technology will take about 200 million years to crack this. Imagine adding capital letters and a special character at the end of the sentence; this would elevate the security to another level.
As you can see, long passwords are more effective than complex ones. If you play it smart and use sentences that you can easily remember, you might not even need to write them down, e.g., “Fridayisthebestdayoftheweek!” or fun facts like “Bananasareinfactbears.”
Key points in summary:
- Please use different passwords and multi-factor-authentication whenever possible!
- Consider the asset your password is going to protect.
- Prioritize length over complexity. Choose a sentence that you can easily remember rather than a short, complex password that you must write down to remember.
Now that you understand the importance of secure password management, it’s time to take action. Secure your digital life today by updating your passwords and implementing the best practices outlined in this blog post. If you need assistance or have questions about password management and online security, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Our team of experts is here to help you protect your digital life.
Florian Ramsbeck is happy to guide you through the process of creating and managing secure passwords. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.