Password security: what everyone with online accounts should know

Password security – it’s something we should all take seriously, but that we usually don’t even give a second thought to.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the importance of password security as well as the ways to ensure your own safety through proper password creation.

What is password security so important?

Passwords are something we deal with constantly in modern life. We need them for our phones, our computers, for most websites, all social media, bank apps, and much more. It is easy to see the importance of a password when it safeguards things like your credit card information, but we often overlook the importance of passwords for things as simple as our email boxes.

Just think about the astounding amount of information that is passed via email.

Have you ever needed to reset a password for something vital – like your bank account – and found that the reset criterion simply involves following a link that was sent to your email?

The idea of someone accessing your email and finding a way to access even more sensitive data by proxy is terrifying, but preventable.

How can I protect myself?

Protecting yourself is as easy as creating unique, mixed symbol passwords that aren’t easily figured out from basic details of your life.

It might seem like a great idea, not to mention convenient, to use your daughter’s (or son’s, or pet’s…) name and birthday as all of your passwords, and many people do just that.  The problem is that all this information can be guessed by people who know you, and can easily be discovered by strangers online. Hackers know all the typical combinations of passwords people use and are well-versed in looking up the details to trial-and-error their way into your private information.

Keeping your passwords strong is vital to your digital safety, but it isn’t enough. You also need unique passwords for all of your devices, apps, and websites. That way, if a hacker somehow finds out one of your passwords, they don’t immediately gain access to everything else.

But how can I remember all my passwords?

We have a lot of passwords these days and keeping them all unique and secure can be a lot to handle. The idea of trying to remember them all or writing them down or finding a way to keep them secure digitally causes many people to fall back into the pattern of using the same password everywhere.

One way to keep track of your passwords is to use a password manager that will keep your login information organized and safe, while offering you instant login capabilities. can help you find the best password managers available in today’s market.

So, what does a strong password look like?

A strong password is going to be a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols (as permitted by each website) that does not directly correlate to common information about yourself. Each site will have its own rules for what is required, as well as what is permitted. Here are some tips to creating a strong password:

  • use a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters
  • place numbers and symbols in the middle of the password, not just at the end
  • be sure to take advantage of special characters supported (e.g. $, &, @, etc.) allowed by the site
  • opting for a longer password is always better than a shorter one
  • don’t use your children’s or significant other’s names as a password
  • use different passwords for each of your websites, apps, devices, etc.
  • don’t use sequential numbers as a password
  • don’t use “password” as a password
  • don’t use dictionary words as passwords

If a hacker targets me, how will a different password really stop them?

There are multiple levels of hackers. A hacker could be an angry ex wanting to send inappropriate messages to your business associates while pretending to be you. This is one example of someone who might take advantage of passwords that include family names and dates.

When we think of hackers, though, we typically aren’t thinking of our angry exes or spiteful former coworkers. No, we tend to think about the for-profit cybercriminal who wants to steal your identity and money.

Hackers use multiple methods to crack passwords. They can go through a spread sheet of millions of commonly used passwords called a dictionary. They can use brute force attacks which consist of trying every possible combination based on your password’s length. If a hacker is using a so-called rainbow table, they are comparing the encrypted version of common passwords to yours to attempt to decode your password. Hackers have so many attack vectors that it’s scary, not to mention difficult to defend against.

But increasing your password by just one digit significantly increases the difficulty for a hacker to discover your password. Two additional characters can be the difference between a hacker discovering your information in four months, versus 2 centuries.

In conclusion

If you are going to survive in today’s digital world, you need to know some basic rules stay safe. Passwords are the lock and key to your private information and paramount to your cyber safety, but your passwords are only as strong as you make them. Keep these guidelines in mind when creating your passwords and know your information is secure. 

About the author

Alex Mitchell is a cybersecurity enthusiast, WordPress guru, data-safety tools tester with over 10 years experience.