Cybercriminals have been getting more sophisticated in their attacks, employing advanced technologies like automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to make their attacks more effective. While it once was considered secure to use a six- or eight-character password to keep your personal information safe, today’s cyber landscape requires stronger, more secure password protection.
Cybersecurity standards for logins have evolved. Law enforcement, cryptologists and cybersecurity leaders now agree that the longer and more complex a password is, the more secure the account it protects. One organization shows that the longer and more complex, the time required to crack the password can change from mere seconds to thousands of years.
One approach for creating secure logins is to replace traditional passwords with passphrases. Let’s look at what those entail.
While a password is typically a short character set of mixed digits, a passphrase is longer — at least 12 characters long and comprised of a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. One way to create a passphrase would be to put four random words together or use a unique phrase that is special to you that is easy to remember. Then mix in different letter cases and swap special characters for letters.
To illustrate, let’s take 2022’s song of the year, Leave the Door Open by Silk Sonic. By changing upper- and lower-case letters and replacing numbers and symbols, you end up with a 16-character passphrase of L3@v3TH3d00r0p3N.
This approach can be used with movie titles, artist names, books, etc. Just don’t choose something that has a strong personal connection that can easily be guessed: If you run a Scarlett Johansson fan page, for example, it’s best not to use variations of her name or movie titles since cybercriminals might guess that might be what you would use.
We’ve created a handy infographic to help with the do’s and don’ts of strengthening your logins.
When selecting the phrase you’ll use to make your passphrase, there are a few additional considerations to help keep you protected. TransUnion recommends asking a few questions when selecting a passphrase:
One piece of advice that does not change is to keep your login credentials unique for every device and account. You don’t want to use the same passphrase for multiple places. Otherwise, if one set of login credentials is compromised in a data breach, attackers could potentially gain access to other accounts that use the same passphrase.
That’s particularly important since many apps, devices and accounts are interconnected. If a bad actor successfully gets into one account, they could use the same credentials to access your other accounts.
Remembering a long list of unique passphrases can be tricky, but you should not write them on a piece of paper since that’s too easy to steal. To keep your passphrases and accounts safe, you may want to consider a password manager — a tool that securely stores a user’s login credentials — like the one included with IdentityForce.
As identity thieves, cybercriminals and scammers enhance their attack tactics, it is important that we all raise our cybersecurity game. Strengthening the logins that protect our devices and accounts — and all the valuable information they contain — is the first step to thwarting the efforts of those attackers.