Teenage boy angry at computer

On Tuesday June 16th, password security firm LastPass announced they had been hacked. LastPass CEO and Founder Joe Siegrist reported that “LastPass account email addresses, password reminders, … and authentication hashes were compromised”. It’s a scary reminder that there are people out there who want to hack into your private life.

The reality is that we’re completely dependent on having dozens of different accounts to go about our daily lives. Could you picture losing access to your email? To your social media accounts? Even worse, what if someone broke into your bank or PayPal accounts?

Considering the only thing standing between your precious information and identity is your password, you would think many of us would put at least SOME effort into making a half-decent password. Unfortunately, Splashdata’s list of top ten worst passwords of 2014 has some incredibly depressing results. If your password of choice is “123456” or “monkey”, then you have a serious security problem.

According to Wikipedia, even a regular desktop computer with a high-end processor can check over 2.8 billion different passwords a second. Here are three quick tests to check if your password is good or not.

  1. The Lazy Test

The very first thing you want to do is to put at least a little bit of effort into your password. If your password is even remotely similar to one of the top 25 worst passwords mentioned above then you clearly need to change it.

  1. The Dictionary Test

If I were to pick up a dictionary and try every single word, would I be able to break into your account? Instead of using a regular word (or even an uncommon word), try and be more creative.

  1. The Google Test

If I Googled your name, would I be able to find your password? This would include your birthday, cat’s name, date of birth, etc. It might be easier to remember something that has sentimental value to you, but it also makes it much easier to guess

  1. The Shared Pool Test

Here’s one a lot of us are guilty of. How many passwords do you have for all your different accounts? It is so tempting to just use the same one or two passwords for everything. However, this opens you up to a lot of unnecessary risk. If any one of your accounts get hacked, you can bet everything else is going to follow suit.

I can’t remember a hard password!

You’d be surprised. The trick here is to think of a combination of words or letters that make perfect sense to you but would be impossible. We’ve actually written a comprehensive blog post earlier about coming up with an unbreakable password in just 60 seconds.

Alternatively, the webcomic xkcd has an absolutely brilliant method of coming up with a strong password.

XKCD