Protect Yourself With Better Password Security

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so we would like to tackle a thorn in many people's sides: PASSWORDS. With so many accounts to keep track of, they often can be difficult to remember. Love 'em or hate 'em, they are an important part of gaining access to resources and communication as technology becomes a larger part in many of our lives.

Don’t Be an Easy Target!

Even though passwords seem like a chore to deal with, remember that they are a way to keep your sensitive information away from prying eyes! Hackers will often go after the easiest targets, so don't be an easy target!

Is Your Password on This List?

Here are the top 10 most common passwords of 2021 according to NordPass, opens a new window:
1. 123456
2. 123456789
3. 12345
4. qwerty
5. password
6. 12345678
7. 111111
8. 123123
9. 1234567890
10. 1234567

Do you use any of these passwords? If so, you probably want to change your password! Even if your password is not on this list, a hacker can discover a simple and predictable password very quickly – sometimes even in seconds!

What’s a Good Password?

One of the easiest ways to create a secure password is to make it long! The new standard says that your password should be a minimum of 12 characters in length but making it even longer will exponentially make it more secure. If you think that it will be too difficult to think of a password that long, consider looking at this comic, opens a new window using passphrases consisting of seemingly random words. For example, bird grey earl expo may look like an insecure password due to its ordinary words, but because of its long length (19 characters if you include the spaces!), it could take an awfully long time for someone to figure out! To make it even more complex, you can toss in uppercase letters, symbols, more spaces or numbers into the mix!

Consider a Password Manager

Another way to avoid being an easy target is to refrain from re-using passwords for multiple online services. You may be thinking, “It’s IMPOSSIBLE to remember a different password for every single service!” It’s true, our brains are not designed to retain that many different passwords. Many of us resort to writing them down. An alternative method to organize passwords is to consider using a password manager. A password manager is an application that will store and organize online credentials. Often, it’s designed to be unlocked with one very secure password. Once your vault of passwords is unlocked, you have easy access to your unique, hard-to-remember passwords! Plus, password managers come with extra benefits such as creating secure passwords, auto filling passwords, and sending alerts if your email was included in a security breach.

If You Must Write Down Your Password…

If you still prefer writing down passwords in a notebook, consider memorizing a secret element, common to all the passwords, so that prying eyes still won’t detect the correct password. For example:
• Write down part of the password, e.g., know that you add a secret combination of characters to append to the beginning or end of what is written down
• Write too much information in the notebook, e.g., know that you omit the first five characters of each password
• Write the passwords backwards (consider this only if there are no recognizable words in your passwords)

Want to Learn More?

• Check out our upcoming technology programs
• Book a 45-min appointment with a Tech Tutor

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of San Mateo County Libraries