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Is Your Password for Sale on the Dark Web?

Here’s a quick password test – what do these seemingly random alphanumerical groupings have in common?

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 123456789
  4. 12345678
  5. 12345
  6. 111111
  7. 1234567
  8. sunshine
  9. qwerty
  10. iloveyou

That is a list of the top ten passwords used in 2019. Recognize any of these? If you don’t, you’re not necessarily in the clear, but your chance of becoming compromised or hacked is far less than someone who uses one of these passwords. If you do recognize these, you’re certainly testing your luck.

These days, creating and remembering passwords has become increasingly more challenging. If we had only one device, we could probably manage it quite easily. But with every device we use, most programs we need to do our jobs, and sites that require you to change your password every few months, it is estimated that the average person must memorize up to 191 different passwords. No wonder we often choose to take shortcuts!

The problem is over 80% of hacks are due to compromised credentials, otherwise known as stolen username and password information that are often traded on Dark Web sites. In fact, in one month alone in 2019, Microsoft blocked 1.3 million attempts to steal this kind of data, which would have led to dangerous phishing attacks, and other hacking attempts.

A huge percentage of people who access the dark web use it to conduct criminal activity.

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These harrowing statistics are why you hear the recommendations:

  • Never use the same password twice (IT Managers report 73% of all passwords used are duplicated in multiple applications, opening up multiple avenues for attack)
  • Never write down your passwords
  • Never share them with anyone else
  • Never use real words or known information about yourself in your passwords
  • Avoid commonly used passwords (50% of all attacks involved the top 25 most popular)

Pay attention to that last stat: 50% of all attacks involved the top 25 most used passwords. See what we meant when we said if you recognized anything on that list you’re testing your luck?

Following all these rules and regulations, you’ll end up with passwords that are about 16-characters long, impossible to memorize, and, unfortunately, are still completely hackable (much more difficult, of course, but where there is a will, there is a way). So, what do we do now?

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Password Manager

The first shortcut is a password manager, such as LastPass. You can store all of your passwords in one place. This makes accessing all of them much easier, but there you’re not out of the woods yet. This manager is also protected by a master password. 

If you’re utilizing a software like this, make sure that the master is especially complex, so that hackers aren’t even tempted, especially in the case of a brute force attack. If possible, turn on multi-factor authentication, especially on your password manager.

Multi-factor authentication

Many sites utilize multi-factor authentication. This extra layer of protection connects to your phone, email, or other authentication source, rather than relying solely on a password. We recommend enabling multi-factor authentication wherever possible. 

The only caveat here is make sure your secondary authentication source is equally secured with a strong credentials. No sense in double protecting yourself with a wide-open source.

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Generators

These sites come up with secure passwords for you, but are typically a random jumble of letters, number, and symbols that are darn near impossible to memorize. If you’ve got a strong memory, this might be a good starting point, but if you’re like most of us, this may be more challenging than it’s worth.

How to craft the best password

Use a “Password Phrase” in place of random letters, numbers and symbols. Create something that’s easy for you to remember, but has no meaning to anyone else. For example I<3Fh@ck3rs43v3r!. Breaking this down, you get:

I – I

<3 – Love

F – fooling

h@ck3rs – hackers

43v3r – forever

This would be easy for you to remember because you understand the phrase, but difficult for a hacker to decipher because it’s not made up of real words. There’s no time like the present to get started and change your easy-to-hack credentials to something safer, because it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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Work at creating passwords that will be difficult to hack. Make sure to change them regularly. Never write them down, (especially on a Post-it Note stuck to your computer!). 

But most of all, make passwords an important part of your life. Don’t consider them a nuisance or a thorn in your side. Make a game out of creating them. Challenge yourself to be more creative each time you create one or rely on the password managers that generate complex passwords.

Beat the hackers at their own game by making your password too time intensive to try and crack, and you’ll reduce your chance of your information showing up on the Dark Web. 

Worried about your information already being available due to past weak password use? Contact The TNS Group today for more information.