Cyber criminals operate enormous businesses, hiring some of the best developers and paying some of the highest salaries. Many offer hacking tools and kits as products, which other cyber criminals can buy. Some even offer a complete support service for these products! Criminals use these automated tools and software to infect computers and steal data, and because they are automated, no-one is immune. Your computer and your data are valuable, but many people don’t realise it. Your computer can be infected to help them launch attacks on other computers, and your data can be sold, or your files could be locked and you could be held to ransom to get your files back. When your files are locked, not even IT specialists can unlock it, this type of attack is known as ransomware.
Some people make this process really for easy for the criminals and if you do any of the following, you might be too:
- Using easy passwords. Your children / partner / pets name may not be as difficult to crack as you imagine. Common passwords like “123456” or “Password123” can be easily guessed in seconds
- Using the same password for all your accounts
- Using no password at all
Criminals can crack your password very easily if you make it too short and easy.
- A simple 7 character password of just letters could be cracked in less than one second using automated technology
- Increasing that to 10 characters would take around 4 months to crack
- Increasing to the 11 characters could take up to a decade to crack
So long passwords are really essential.
Using the same password for all your accounts is very common for many people because it’s hard to remember so many passwords. But if you use a simple password, and it gets stolen or cracked, then those hackers potentially have automatic access to all the accounts that use that password. You should be using different passwords for all your accounts, and using a password manager (such as LastPass) to keep them secure.
Strong passwords are easy to create:
- Use two to three memorable words joined together to make a long password (10 characters minimum)
- Use a mix of upper and lower case letters
- Add some numbers or special characters (such as question marks, exclamation marks, brackets) to make it even stronger. For example you could use the number “3” instead of the letter “E”.
So perhaps instead of your password being emma1998, you could improve that to Emma1998Bicycle!** which would be a much stronger password and yet still not too hard to remember.
Did you know, you can check this website if your email has been compromised in a previous data breach. If you find it has, change the password and don’t ever use that password again. Using strong and different passwords on every account will immediately make you more secure and limit the damage of one password being stolen.
Another excellent help to protecting your passwords is to use multi-factor authentication, commonly known as two-factor authentication. Once you login to a platform, one of the ways your password is authenticated is the platform sending an automated verification code to your mobile, you will then be prompted to enter that verification code to gain access. This way, even if someone has managed to gain access to your password, they won’t be able to enter the verification code and, in turn, won’t be able to access your account.
If you find you are a victim of any kind of cyber-attack, contact us for an immediate assessment.