Last week, LinkedIn and eHarmony were hacked. The result of these hacks was million of stolen passwords. Both companies urged users to change their passwords, and LinkedIn even forced some users to change passwords by temporarily shutting down compromised accounts. Even though many thought these sites to be secure (and, for the most part, they were), hackers today play by a different set of rules than they did a few years ago.
It used to be that a random alphanumeric number would prevent any account from being hacked. This is no longer the case. Instead of using dictionary files to uncover possible word combinations, today’s hackers can figure out random strings of letters and numbers. In short, few password combinations are safe from hacker hands, but you can really prevent account ruin if you carefully select your password and change that password regularly.
Here’s the Best Possible Password Combination
Security professionals across the world have weighed in on the recent hacker problem. All of these professionals agree that they best way to protect an account are to choose a twelve-character password. I’ll repeat that just for good measure: a twelve-character password is now the most secure length possible. Why? The old eight-character passwords are just too easy for hackers to figure out. Simply put: there are a lot more possible combinations for a twelve-character password than there are for an eight or six-character password.
So, should that new password be alphanumeric in nature? Alphanumeric passwords still work, but make sure to choose one that’s super long. A general rule of thumb is to select four words and a few numbers. This way, hackers will have a much harder time of figuring out what your password is. But, there’s one more step that you really have to take.
This Step is Crucial to Password Protection
In addition to making sure that your password is long enough, you must change your password frequently. Also, make sure that you don’t use the same password for more than one account. I know, it can be really tempting to use the same password for all of your social media or bank accounts, but keep this in mind: if a hacker can grab ahold of one password, a number of your accounts might be compromised. Choosing the same password for various accounts is just asking for trouble, really.
While there’s nothing that can be done about the stolen LinkedIn and eHarmony passwords, you can make sure that future passwords are entirely secure. Remember there are three ways to prevent password theft. First, choose a twelve-character password; second, change your passwords often; third, never use the same password twice. Hackers may be more sophisticated than ever before, but you can respond to those sophisticated moves by making sure that your accounts are all up to date and secure. If you haven’t already changed a LinkedIn or eHarmony password, don’t wait for these companies to tell you to make that change. Head to your account and change your password right now.