How Secure is Your Password? – 5 Password Security Risks to Avoid

Carla Woodworth Hacker Noon profile picture

Carla Woodworth

Carla is the Sr. Partnership Manager at Q5id, Inc., — Proven Identity Management solution company in Oregon.

In this digital world, where almost everything is virtual, signing in to online accounts has been a typical part of daily life. A huge number of web-based platforms, from banking applications to e-commerce sites, are protected by passwords to inhibit access of unwanted parties.

This being said, it’s important to keep your passwords secure and regularly updated. Doing so will safeguard your accounts and personal information from cybercrimes like identity theft and data breaches. These illegal activities are becoming increasingly common, especially since hackers are also becoming more tech-forward.

The first step to preventing unauthorized access to your accounts is understanding risks and threats in password security. Here are the top examples.

1. Phishing

Asking for passwords through phishing is a typical hacking tactic. Phishing emails contain malicious links that direct readers to a bogus login page where they are required to input their credentials. Phishing messages are usually framed as time-sensitive emergencies. It could be a request to update your password with a warning of losing access to your account if you don’t act fast.

Once the reader is hooked and has put in their
login credentials, the website scans their password, which the hacker can utilize to obtain any user data.

To avoid phishing attempts, take the following precautions:

  • Be wary of unsolicited emails from unknown senders.
  • Look up the email addresses of legitimate institutions to counter-check.
  • Check for typos and grammar errors.
  • Before clicking, hover over hyperlinks to determine the complete address.
  • When in doubt, do not reply for clarification. Instead, call the alleged company the sender is mimicking.

2. Dictionary Attack

The dictionary attack is one of the most prevalent types of password
security threats. It employs a program in identifying the most used passwords, a strategy comparable to the brute force attack, although it is less difficult. Both entail using a script to guess the account holder’s password.

Passwords that contain your date of birth and your dog’s name might not protect your account from a dictionary attack. These types of passwords can be easy to predict, and hackers can successfully gain access to your system.

3. Brute Force

As mentioned above, the brute force attack is similar to the dictionary attack, but it involves a more complicated method. A hacker uses a tool or software to log in using likely password combinations. When you think about it, having an easy-to-guess password, like that containing birthday digits, is a typical mistake.

The brute force attack is regarded as more advanced than the dictionary attack. Instead of employing software with a predefined set of words, brute force attacks can expose non-dictionary keywords, such as alphanumeric combinations.

This means that passwords containing sequences like “123” or “ABC” are vulnerable to these security breach attempts. However, this form of attack is typically augmented and requires more digital resources, such as additional processing power to shorten the hacking time.

4. Spidering

Expert hackers have discovered that passwords used by companies are made up of words linked with the organization. Professional hackers have mechanized this method through spidering, which is the use of an automated mechanism that searches webpages for words or phrases that could be used as passwords. The technology is similar to that used by search engines to categorize keywords, allowing hackers to collect and arrange lists of possible passwords.

5. Keylogger

In this virtual assault, a hacker uses a program to track the user’s keystrokes. The hacker then evaluates the user’s input as recorded by
the program. It is important to note that unlike brute force or dictionary attacks, keylogger attacks require installing malware into a device.

The target is usually unaware that they are being watched. A hacker using a keylogger’s attack method can get confidential data such as financial information, social security numbers, and driver’s license numbers.

Even stronger passwords can be defenseless against these attacks, which is why multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a must. MFA has become a popular security measure chosen by many businesses along with installing firewalls, upgrading apps (for patches and bug fixes), and requiring password updates every so often.

Since we have enumerated the most common password security threats you should be aware of, it’s only fair that we also discuss ways to strengthen your password and prevent it from being decoded.

5 Ways to Boost Password Security

1. Maintain a strong password

Always strive to construct a password that is between 8 and 20 characters long and contains as many different characters as possible. Try to make a combination of symbols, numerals, and uppercase and lowercase characters. Don’t hesitate to reach the maximum character count if needed. All these measures will fortify your password and make it more difficult to guess.

2. Don’t use the same password twice

Don’t use the same password for your email or other online services when creating a new login ID. Reusing passwords for multiple accounts may help ensure that you won’t forget them, but this is a dangerous move. If your password is compromised, the hacker will not only be able to access one but many of your online accounts.

3. Take caution with password length

Passwords can become more difficult to remember as they become longer, and you’re more likely to make typos that could lock you out of the account. Keep your passwords at a reasonable length: it might be best to follow the recommended maximum character count.

4. Integrate biometrics

If your smartphone allows you to log in with a fingerprint or facial ID scan, this is the way to go! It’s far superior to having to remember and type in a password on a smartphone or laptop keyboard.

Using your bank’s or credit card company’s app on your phone rather than their website is also a better, more secure option. Financial companies embrace biometrics authentication to make their apps more secure than logging in via the web.

5. When updating passwords, change them completely

Many organizations require their employees and customers to update their passwords every few months. Here, it’s advisable to create an entirely new password instead of just changing or swapping a few characters.

The Bottomline

Password management is difficult, but it is critical for the security of your confidential and sensitive data. Take the time to organize your passwords, assess them, and devise a strong strategy for keeping them all secure.

To increase the level of password security, you can turn to biometric and multi-factor authentication methods, encryption, and backups. Last but not least, if you ever fall victim to a data breach or any of your online accounts get compromised, you must report it to the authorities as soon as possible

Carla Woodworth Hacker Noon profile picture
by Carla Woodworth @carlawoodworth. Carla is the Sr. Partnership Manager at Q5id, Inc., — Proven Identity Management solution company in Oregon. Q5id, Inc


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