Awhile back, we wrote about our internal attempt to hack into our own computer security system. Like a hacker, we kept a computer running in the background using a software to continually generate different passwords. The software works like a slot machine, running different combinations behind the scenes until the hacker hits the jackpot – your password.  Three months and thousands of attempts later, we are excited to report that our efforts are officially…

Unsuccessful.

While we take a minute to give ourselves a virtual high-five, we don’t want to miss this opportunity to talk about the bigger point – the importance of picking a hard-to-hack password. Quite frankly, the entire strength of your IT infrastructure’s security relies on a single password.

Our password has proved unhackable, thus protecting our entire organization from intruders. Still, we’re going to keep trying, because you can never be too careful when it comes to cyber predators.

So, why is this so important?

Hackers try to access your important data, searching for personal identification numbers including social security, license, and birthdays. They sell that information on the black market. Once someone gets that information, getting into your bank account or stealing you identity becomes much easier.  Cracking your password gives cyber thieves easy access to the goods.

In order to understand what makes a strong password, it’s important to first understand what makes a poor password.

Passwords should not be:

  • Simple patterns on your keyboard including “qwertyuiop,” which is the top row of letters on a standard keyboard, or “1qaz2wsx”.
  • Favorite sports
  • Birthdays or birth years
  • Baby names
  • Hobbies
  • Swear words
  • Car brands
  • Celebrities

Instead create passwords of eight characters or more with a mix of different characters, symbols and numbers. Or use a random phrase like, “Alpine skiing is fantastic.” And finally, resist the urge to use the same password for all of your accounts.

Security takes away convenience. If remembering different passwords proves difficult, try a password manager like LastPass or SplashID.

If you need more motivation to keep your passwords large and in charge, regularly review your system reports to see how many attempts were made to hack into your servers. You will be able to see just how effective those 8 little characters are. A little password inconvenience on the front end can save you major security breaches on the backend.