You may think to yourself, why do I have to have a password with uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols? The answer is quite simple. As technology continues to advance, so does a hackers capability to crack passwords. It used to take someone several months to crack passwords that today would take a matter of seconds to crack.
So how can you ensure that your password is not compromised? Taking steps like having a 10 character password with symbols increases the amount of time it would take a hacker to crack your password. Using offline cracking methods against a 10 character password that is only letters takes approximately 10 1/2 hours and by adding in a symbol would increase the complexity to a total time of 54 1/2 years according to Fogarty (2012). Although this article is a few years date, it demonstrates that increasing the complexity of a password increases the amount of time it takes for the password to be compromised.
Another step that should be taken is that passwords should regularly be changed. For instance, if your bank does not implement a requirement to change your password every 180 days, it may be worth making a reminder to change your password. Depending on how “important” you view your online presence, you may even use an interval of 90 or 120 days between password changes. Although it is tempting to create an incrementing password template, it reduces the amount of value added by changing the password because it can be easily guessed. It is also imperative that the same passwords are not used across accounts. By using the same password across accounts, it increases a hackers ability to gain unauthorized access to your information by simply guessing the password of the account they have already compromised.
The final consideration when dealing with passwords is that you should not use dictionary words or information that others may be able to gather about you, such as marriage dates, children’s names, or pets names. Using dictionary words such as this increases the ease of cracking or guessing the password. Remember, you would not set your bank lockbox to have a combination of 1234, so why would you set your password to something as simple as that?