how many times a year do you change the passwords of your social networks, your digital bank accounts or, in general, of the online services you use? Once? Twice? None? Maybe you have never even asked yourself this question! In any case, it is increasingly important that we understand that managing our passwords is one of the most important factors on which our online security depends.
We live in an increasingly digital world, where much of our management, our activities and our interactions occur online. The amount of compromised information that we have stored in the digital environment is increasingly large, and its adequate protection depends on our being able to avoid unpleasant surprises and unforeseen events. Cybersecurity is becoming a key facet in a digital context in which cybercriminal activity is the order of the day.
One of the best known and most essential components of that cybersecurity is, as we mentioned at the beginning, the management of passwords and digital keys. And perhaps precisely because of this, because it is such a well-known and familiar facet, it is also one whose importance and care we overlook. And this can have serious consequences. Proof of the lack of attention with which many Internet users treat this issue can be seen in the lists of the most used passwords in the world.
A study published by ExpressVPN has revealed passwords as simple and predictable as 123456 (or other similar combinations of ordered numbers), qwerty, qwertyuiop (and other sequences of characters placed in order on the keyboard), 000000, 1111111, 123123, abc123 (and a few similar repetitions), password, password1, etc.; as well as common single words such as “superman”, “monkey”, “princess”, “sunshine” or “dragon”. We also find basic phrases such as “letmein” or “iloveyou” among the most commonly used password options.
As we can see many of these passwords are very easy to guess, and are so common around the world that they will be the first ones that cyber eavesdroppers will look for when accessing one of your accounts, so it is very clear that they are not good options to use! But these are not the only passwords we need to be wary of. All those that are predictable according to your context and the public information you have on the network, or all those to which you have not paid enough attention are likely to open a hole in your online security.
Issues such as length (ideally between 12 and 20 characters), originality, the mix of different types of characters (letters, symbols, numbers, etc.), coupled with the ability to remember that password (either through mnemonic rules or through a password management system), are some key aspects in determining the feasibility and suitability of a password.
But as we said at the beginning, it is not enough to set a good password once and forget it! Another issue to take into account in a good password management is to change the password as time goes by (ideally after a couple of months or three). And do it with each of the different passwords of the platforms or services in which we have accounts, because, for obvious reasons, it is not advisable to use the same password for different services. All this, as we can imagine, involves an investment in time and energy, but it is worth it if we want to build a good online security structure.