The password mistakes leaving you vulnerable to hacking
Passwords are an important but sometimes frustrating part of our online lives.
There are some big mistakes we make with our passwords and they could leave you exposed to hackers.
In the video above: How secure is your password?
According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, Australians lost a record $323.7 million to scams and identity theft in 2021, with phishing scams up 62 percent on the previous year.
It’s not just your main accounts like social media or online banking that are at risk.
These days most Australians have a huge list of logins – ones you may not even remember or only sign up to get something free, like through a shopping website.
All it takes is one data breach to compromise all your accounts – so what can you do?
1. Don’t use the same password across multiple sites
If you use one password across multiple platforms or sites, you’re at greater risk.
“By far the biggest mistake people make with passwords is using the same one across multiple sites,” says Val Quinn, Sunrise tech expert.
“Because if one site gets hacked, then the hackers have the same password that they can use on different sites to try to login under your name.”
2. Use a passphrase
“Hackers can use special tools where they can actually brute force guess your passwords,” says Quinn.
“That means we have to make them very complicated, long combo of letters, characters and numbers, upper and lower case.”
For extra protection, try using a passphrase instead of a traditional password.
But make sure the phrase you select is also easy to remember.
It’s also a good idea to ensure it’s not a common or popular quote or song that can be easily guessed by somebody who knows you.
3. See if you’ve been breached
Sites like Have I Been Pwned? allow you to check if your email address or password have been caught up in known data breaches.
Started by Australian cyber security consultant Troy Hunt, who is also Microsoft’s regional director, the site aggregates known issues, providing a snapshot of that sites where your data may have been compromised.
4. Don’t use personal information
This tip sounds simple but a lot of people continue to fall into the trap of using personal information.
Avoid using things like a pet’s name or the year you were born.
5. Use a password manager
Most of us have passwords across email, social media, banking, streaming services and online shopping.
But keeping track of all those login details can be daunting.
That’s where password managers come in handy.
“A password manager is almost a must,” explains Quinn.
“It really helps ensure you use different passwords for all of the sites you log into, otherwise you just can’t remember very easily.”
Most common passwords of 2021
According to NordPass, these are the most common passwords globally in 2021, all of which the tech company estimates take under one second to hack.
NordPass research also revealed these were the most common passwords in Australia.