As more passwords have been breached over the years, security hackers have gained new insights into how people select passwords. By isolating patterns, they been able to develop and build advanced password-cracking algorithms. Ten years ago, if my password was M@rkJ1md0!, a hacker would have run a dictionary or brute force attack that tested a list of words or characters until it cracked it. This process would have taken years even with the processing power of today’s computers. Now, my password example is much easier to crack because of patterns that security crackers have accounted for in their algorithms. Here’s a few common patterns:
Many people are concerned with the security aspects of password managers. While every online service poses some risk, I agree with Lifehacker that using a password manager is the safest option today. You only need to remember one master password, and you can also use two-factor authentication with it.
1. When you set up two-factor authentication for online services, you’ll be prompted to enter your mobile phone number.
2. A verification code is sent to your phone via a secure channel, such as text, voice call, or an authentication mobile app.
4. Enter the code, and voila, your identity has been verified.
After you have confirmed your identity on an individual device, future sign-ons will not require a verification code. Because that device is protected by a PIN, password, or pattern lock (you are securing your phone’s lock screen, right?), you don’t need to worry about unauthorized access. Setting up two-factor authentication is highly encouraged, because even if your password is compromised, your account is still safe. Popular services that offer two-factor authentication include Apple, Facebook, Google/Gmail, and Twitter. You can find a large list of popular websites that do and do not offer two-factor authentication at Two Factor Auth.
Security questions can be even less secure than passwords. Anyone who knows you personally can probably get you to unknowingly answer these kinds of questions during a friendly conversation or via social networks. Some, or all, of that information may even be online, as was the case with Sarah Palin back in 2008. To combat these concerns, I suggest using a friend or family member’s information, instead of your own, as the answers to those security questions.
I hope I haven’t instilled too much fear to cause paranoia—online platforms should be fun and productive, but they should also be safe. Following these guidelines will help ensure your security, so that you can continue using these services with a little more peace of mind.
Do you have any other tips to protect your online identity? What’s your favorite password manager? Let me know in our comments section.
Customer Support Geek at Jimdo
Mark joined Jimdo in April 2014 to add a helping hand to the Support Team. With a background in technical support and recruiting, his prowess is a unique resource for Jimdo and its customers. When Mark isn't answering technical questions, he enjoys road trips, Continental philosophy, and reality television.