A modern supercomputer can crack simple passwords in a matter of seconds, for example, "123456" or "password." In many cases, weak passwords represent a potential security risk. By following the tips below, you can better protect your data and your identity.
1. Be creative
For a long time the thinking was that the longer and more complex a password is, the more secure it is. However, experts now recommend using passwords that are "easy to remember" but "difficult to guess". So, channel your creativity! It's important not to use dictionary words and sequences of the same letters or ascending numbers. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology advises using at least eight characters, while the German Consumer Association suggests using at least ten.
2. Use each password for only one account
In the event that one of your passwords gets cracked, you shouldn't use a password on multiple websites, but create a separate password for each account.
3. Use a password manager
If you're signed up to and registered on various websites and apps, we advise against reusing the same password across different accounts. A password manager helps here, meaning you don't have to memorize dozens of different passwords. You just have to remember one master key or password, and you have all your login details in one place. Alternatively, you can write down your passwords on a piece of paper and put it in a safe place.
4. Has your password been stolen? Take the test
Your private data and passwords may already have been exposed to the public. Germany's Hasso Plattner Institute allows you to check if your personal data has been stolen in criminal cyber attacks. You can consult their Identity Leak Checker to determine whether an email address or password has been compromised and made public on the internet.
Checklist – how to choose a secure password
- Use passwords that are easy for you to remember, but difficult for others to guess
- Don't use words based on dictionary words and names
- The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology advises using at least eight characters, while the German Consumer Association suggests using at least ten.
- Create a unique user name and password for each account
- If you have many different accounts, you should using consider a password manager with a master key
- You can also use other forms of identity verification. More and more internet services and websites offer the option of two-factor authentication. An example of this is having to enter an SMS code when logging into your online banking, in addition to entering ypur normal password.