DT en Español could receive a commission if you buy a product from the site
Passwords are a tricky business, especially because of their importance. We need one for the bank’s app, another for social media profiles, streaming services, loyalty cards, supermarkets … the list is long and keeps growing. On top of that is the complicated and endless requirements for setting new passwords. You need a capital letter here, a symbol there, a few numbers too. It’s a tedious process, and it’s tempting to do the bare minimum to get rid of the hassle. Many of us do, at least. But now that a new year is approaching, it is time to improve; Now is the time to review your passwords to make sure they protect you as they should.
Why (almost all) the passwords are bad?
We already know that most of us use terrible passwords; a hacker needs a second! to decipher them. Two seconds if you are tired. We are ending 2021 and tens of millions of people still turn to the great classics, such as “qwerty”, “password” and “123456789”. We’ve gotten to the point where some tech companies have considered simply stopping using passwords.
“We try to make things easier for ourselves. We often rely on familiar and personal words and phrases, ”explains Microsoft’s Vasu Jakkal in a blog post in which he defends a future without passwords. ” One of our recent surveys revealed that 15 percent of people use their pet’s names as inspiration for their passwords. Other common responses included last names and important dates, such as birthdays. We also found that one in 10 people admitted to reusing passwords at several different sites, and 40 percent say they used a formula for their passwords, such as fall 2021, which eventually turns into winter 2021 or spring 2022. ″ Jakkal added that “weak passwords are the entry point for most attacks on business and consumer accounts. An impressive 579 attacks occur every second – that is, 18 billion each year. “
Alternatives to passwords
Microsoft’s solution is simple. Avoid using passwords if necessary and adopt alternative means, such as an authentication app. It is a step towards a future without passwords; Apple and Google are also going down that path. But there is another argument to strengthen your passwords. Yes, you may be safer by leaving passwords and completely switching to an authentication application or security key, but not all services will offer you that option.
How to audit your passwords
The good news is that auditing your passwords is pretty easy, as long as you save them in your browser or your phone’s operating system. Chrome, for example, has a built-in tool to check all passwords. Someone with a lot of passwords will take about an hour to do this, and it is very easy to use. The system alerts you when there are repeated passwords, alerts you when there are easy-to-guess passwords, and hacked passwords are highlighted. In many cases, Google will give you direct access to the password change on the affected site. Apple offers a similar service with iCloud Keychain on the latest versions of iOS and macOS.
Use a password manager
When it comes to creating new passwords, the best thing you can do is fall back on those annoying but indecipherable auto-generated passwords. Your browser can do it, although a special extension for that might be better. You should also consider a powerful password manager like LastPass or 1Password for a more robust, cross-platform experience.
Passwords can be cumbersome and complicated, but you may regret using the wrong ones for the sake of convenience. You could risk your privacy, lose access to your accounts and even money. If solving the potential dangers is out of your reach, it is best to take some time and start the year with the gift of peace of mind.