Is your password weak?

by | May 20, 2020

When was the last time you changed your email’s password? When I asked this to my friends, most of them answered years ago. And even then, most of them had forgotten it and had to reset the password. Yes, passwords are a pain and we obviously cannot survive without different forms of social media networks. Passwords are hard to remember, and different social networks have their own rules to form and change passwords. But is your password safe? Is your password strong?

What is a weak password?

First, what is a weak password? A weak password is the password which is easy to guess both by the human and by computers. People often use simple passwords about someone or something they love, or they owe in order not to forget the passwords. However, the simpler the password, the easier to detect. How many of you have used your name plus your birth year as your passwords? Or your phone number, or the name of your beloved ones, your favorite singer, player? In 2019, the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Center analyzed public databases of breached accounts to see which words, phrases and strings people used. Top of the list was 123456, appearing in more than 23 million passwords. The second-most popular string, 123456789, was not much harder to crack, while others in the top five included “qwerty”, “password” and 1111111. Many sites won’t even allow you to use a weak password, but there are still some that do. A study in 2017 found that the password “password$1” is deemed “Very Weak” by Dropbox, “Weak” by Apple, “Fair” by Google and “Very Strong” by Yahoo. Find more about weak passwords here.

What kinds of information are you sharing on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube? Maybe, Your name, location, email, travels, schools, and all. Trust me, you don’t want this information in the hands of someone who has bad intentions. And the irony is that many people publicly share their date of birth on Facebook while having date of birth as the part of their Facebook password.

Anatomy of a Password

Why do you think when signing up for some sites, they have specific password requirements? A six-letter password using all upper-case letters, or all lower-case letters has 308 million possible letter combinations. This is easily broken within a couple minutes by automated password cracking programs that hackers can download from the Internet.

With some combination of both upper and lower case letters, a six letter password has 19 billion possible combinations. If you increase the password to eight letters and use both upper and lower case letters, there are 53 trillion possible combinations. Substitute a number for one of the letters, and there are 218 trillion possible combinations. Substitute one of the special characters for another one of the letters, and this has 6,095 trillion possible combinations — still crackable, but requiring a more sophisticated program, a far more powerful computer, and far more time.

There are tons of social media networks we use and for some we even create multiple accounts. And remembering the passwords for all these accounts might be a headache. The result? Some people write down their passwords and keeping them in a notebook.

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Is it somewhere safe?

But what good is your strong password if it is open to see for anyone who has access to your that notebook. That notebook is just not a notebook anymore, it has the passwords which might be keys to your bank. And some people just save it in some document files on their computer. And its hardly possible that you never let anyone other touch your computer, let alone cyber attacks. Also never let anyone know your password. No matter how strong is your password, once someone else knows it, it’s no longer strong.

Yes, we have a ton of passwords and when browser asks for something like “Do you want Google Chrome to save your password for this site?”, most of the times we click yes. You won’t disagree that Google knows everything about you. But now stakes are higher than ever before. We are trusting Google with the passwords that protect the rest of our life – our bank, our shopping, our travel, our private life. It makes life a lot easier as once we are logged into our Google account using Chrome, we can see all our saved passwords. But here is the thing. If someone learns or guesses your Google account password, you are completely compromised. And if by default “Sync everything” had been enabled, the intruder might not only see your other saved passwords but also your bookmarks, history and so on, basically your entire virtual life. So, its always a good idea to have two factor authentications for log in.

And final notes, never go with admin, admin.



About The Writer

🖎Awan Shrestha

🖎Awan Shrestha

Writer

I am a computer engineering student. Exploring and learning about new technologies, reading and writing is what I love.

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