A unique password is your first line of defense against hackers. It would take a hacker approximately 34,000 years to hack a unique 12-character password – and without that credential, the likelihood of a hacker breaching your account is near zero.
Creating a strong password is easy with the following tips:
- Make sure your passwords are at least 12 characters long and contain letters, numbers, and special characters.
- When you create a password on your own, use random characters, but don't follow easy-to-recognize patterns – e.g. “qwert” or “12345.”
- Avoid using similar passwords that change only a single word or character.
- Don’t use any personally identifiable information in your passwords – e.g. date of birth, year of marriage, name of the street you live on, name of your pet.
- When in doubt, use the LastPass password generator to create random, unique, strong passwords.
Why strong passwords matter
The average person has over 100 online accounts, each of which requires an email address or username and a password to create and access. It’s impossible to remember 100+ passwords on your own. Some people rely on password notebooks and sticky notes to remember their most important passwords; other people fall back on password reuse, using an easy-to-remember password for many of their online accounts. However, while convenient, the reuse of weak passwords poses a very serious risk.
85% of data breaches involve a human element. These breaches are caused by things like:
- Human error – like losing the post-it note your password was written on
- Stolen credentials – a hacker stealing a password you reuse for multiple accounts
- Phishing – a hacker gaining access to your account through an email scam
In most of these instances, a primary cause of the data breach is the reuse of weak passwords.
There’s a disturbing fact, though: 92% of people know they shouldn’t reuse passwords, but 65% still do it anyway.