Do you use the same password for everything from email to bank accounts? Do you have a file called passwords.txt (or even worse... not-my-passwords.txt) sitting on your computer? In 2016, there is no excuse for this any more, and it is time to update and secure all or your passwords with a Password Management tool.
Sadly, in today's digital world, most people don't realize that their personal information is only as secure as their weakest password. For those using pets' or spouse's names or even important dates as passwords, please tread lightly! You may not be too far from having your personal information stolen... and without you even knowing!
Most weak passwords can be cracked in a very short amount of time. As computers get faster, these times will become increasingly shorter. It becomes more and more important to pick passwords that are not so easily cracked. These types of passwords usually consist of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special symbols and should be at least 12 characters in length. Without such a strict password policy, there are many ways a password can be compromised. One such way is by what is known as the Brute-Force Method.
The Brute-Force Method is is just as nice as it sounds! It means that a program will sequentially try every combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Now, to a human, this sounds just boring and tedious. However, a computer excels at such things. For instance, there are machines (pretty powerful ones) that can try 350 billion combinations of passwords per second. That means an 8 character password with all lowercase letters will be cracked in less than a second. Even a password using 8 characters that includes lowercase and uppercase letters as well as numbers and special characters can be cracked in less than 5.5 hours!
Now the good news is that for every character you add to your password, the number of combinations a computer would have to try to crack it goes up exponentially! If you were to take that same computer mentioned above and had it try to guess a 12 character password that included lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and special symbols, it would take almost 49,000 years to crack! That is why it is important to keep your passwords at least 12 characters in length and use all variations of letters, numbers and symbols.
Now I know what your thinking: "How the heck am I going to remember a password like that!?" I hear this from clients all the time. Luckily, the answer is quite simple: A Password Management tool. There are a lot of these kinds of programs out there, but we found one to be superior to all: LastPass.
LastPass is a browser extension (available for almost all browsers) that gets its name by touting that it is the "Last Password you will need to remember." That's right! Just learn one really good password and that is all you will ever need! In addition to storing passwords, LastPass will also generate passwords for you and even remind you to create new passwords for sites that haven't been updated in some time. And don't worry about the safety of your passwords. LastPass encrypts all passwords using the latest standards in data encryption algorithms. Put simply, with a strong LastPass password, there is no need to fear your passwords falling into the wrong hands.
LastPass even goes beyond just the browser. There are mobile apps available for download in both the iOS AppStore and the GooglePlay store. With these apps you can enjoy the same password remembering greatness you get in your browser on your mobile devices as well! More apps are integrating with LastPass every day, so it becomes more and more appealing for people to adopt.
It should be common practice now for everyone to use secure passwords that get updated regularly. There is no reason to use simple passwords anymore. It is important to protect yourself on the web and the first place to start is by reinforcing all of your passwords and keep track of them using LastPass!
For more information about LastPass we highly recommend checking out their website here: https://lastpass.com.
If there is any interest in a tutorial on how to use LastPass, please leave a comment below and we will see about putting something together!