World Password Day: How to Improve Your Passwords
May 4th was World Password Day (#WorldPasswordDay). It’s a global initiative originated by Intel and championed by Dashlane to tackle the number 1 problem in the digital world—passwords.
As one of the leading password managers in the industry, we wanted to take this time make an international public service announcement: World, we have a password problem.
World Password Day: The “Password Problem”
Ever since the Internet was introduced to the public in the ’90s, users around the world have faced the “password problem.” With a growing number of online accounts to manage on multiple devices, users continue to choose the convenience of using the same, easy-to-remember password on all of their accounts over the security of using strong, unique passwords on all of their accounts.
Being proactive about your digital security is a tough sell, but it shouldn’t be. Think about it – we wouldn’t use the same key for our house, car, mailbox and safe, so why would anyone use the same password for every online account?
The odds are the evolution of your password (you know the one) looks a little something like this:
We know this doesn’t apply to everyone–especially avid Dashlane users—but at some point in our digital lives, we’ve all given into the comfort zone of using an easy password before, especially when we’re experiencing “password overload.”
According to our 2017 findings, the average American Internet user has 150 online accounts that require a password—in theory, that means you would need to memorize 150 unique, complex passwords for maximum account security. And it only gets worse: by the year 2022, we predict that number will skyrocket to 300 accounts.
Thankfully, there is an effective solution to the password problem: password managers!
Password managers like Dashlane help users create, use, and store passwords for all of their online accounts. It eliminates the hassle of not only memorizing passwords, but accessing them as well. Many password managers allow you to access your passwords on multiple devices, will automatically log into online accounts, and will fill out account registration forms with ease.
But, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center study, only 12 percent of Americans are using a password management program and 86 percent continue to keep track of their passwords by memorizing them. Is it possible to still create strong, unique passwords just using your brain? Let’s find out:
What Makes a Strong Password?
Let’s take an example we used last year. Take a look at these four passwords I created using Dashlane’s Password Generator:
These must be strong passwords, right? They’re longer than 8 characters, all contain at least one lowercase letter, three contain at least one uppercase letter, and all have included at least one number. They pretty much satisfy all of the minimum password requirements for several websites and apps.
However, State of the Net writer Jeff Fox argues that while these passwords may satisfy all of the minimum requirements of a strong password, they all have one thing in common: they’re using common patterns that almost all of us use to create a strong password, which ends up making them easier to guess.
How to Make a Strong Password
So how do you make an unguessable password that you’ll remember? Follow these helpful tips:
- Although your password should be a bare minimum of 8 characters, aim to make your passwords 12 – 15 characters long.
- Don’t use dictionary words, slang, curse words, email addresses, names, places, etc. in your passwords. They can make your passwords easier to crack.
- Include different letters, numbers, and special symbols in your password that aren’t frequently used, including (_-)+=^*&%#~:;”‘><,./?
- Write down a password hint and keep it in a safe place. Your hint should be able to trigger your memory, but be meaningless to anyone else. Then, store that hint in a safe place, like your wallet.
- Use one of these memorization tricks. Celebrities have used this Password Mnemonics trick in the past, or, if you enjoy using flashcards, try out this Spaced Repetition technique created by cognitive scientists.
- Use Dashlane’s Password Generator tool to create strong passwords. You can specify the password’s length and choose to include numbers, letters, and symbols. Password Generator will also indicate the strength of the password so you can rest assured that your password is virtually unhackable.
Are you ready to take the World Password Day pledge?
Today, I want you to commit to changing at least one password—preferably a password for a social media account, online banking app, or any account using your personal information.
Happy World Password Day!