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Password Security and Why It Is Important

tech talk

By Joshua Duplessis

As a college student pursuing a degree in Information Technology, passwords have been a big interest to me. Passwords are what keep us secure when a majority our of social and financial interaction has migrated online. The pace of our greater and greater reliance on technology for the sake of convenience is putting us more at risk for security breaches. The reason for that is 61 percent of people have admitting to using the same password for multiple accounts. If one company that you have an account with gets hacked and uses the same password as another online service you have, that other service has a chance of getting compromised as well. In 2016 even Mark Zuckerberg did this and got his LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest accounts compromised for using the same password. (I don’t know what’s funnier, that it happened to Mark Zuckerberg or that he has a Pinterest.)

An average U.S. citizen has around 130 online accounts attached to an email address. Let’s say 10 percent of those 130 companies do not store your password securely: 13 of those companies could easily get hacked and that hacker could have all your account information, and some of those accounts could be tied to financial institutions. So how can we prevent ourselves from being hacked and having our security compromised?

First, by making a password that meets complexity standards, with at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number 0-9, and one distinctive character (~!@#$%^&*_-+=`|\(){}[]:;”’<>,.?/). Having just a complex password alone help in an immense way.

Another way to help with password security is to use something called a passphrase. Instead of using a password that is just a single word in the dictionary, use a combination of words to make a phrase while still meeting the complex-password rule set.

One last tip would to be to make sure you change your password frequently. Tips on strengthening your password may only go so far, though; how companies store your information is just as important or even more important. No matter how strong your password is, if the company isn’t secure, a hacker will still get your information.

One way to know if a company you have an account with is secure is if it has a two-way authentication tool, which texts or emails you a code when you try to log in. This security feature adds another layer on top of your strong password, and the likelihood of some hacker getting your information is not likely. Two-way authentication is becoming more of a common thing now. Most social media sites and Google will let you set up two-way authentication. Banking applications are starting to implement biometric authentication, which requires your face, voice or fingerprint to log in.

Our online lives are growing every day, and with more online accounts, there are more passwords we are going to have to remember. I hope this made you more conscious of your data footprint as you go online today and take what type of data you put on the web and the integrity of the website you trust.

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