"Change Your Password Day" 2023: Time to reconsider your password security
Every year 1 February is celebrated as "Change Your Password Day" to remind us how important our passwords are to our security. This year, there is good news for people who find creating new passwords burdensome: coming up with secure passwords does not need any effort at all.
The most popular passwords in 2022
Passwords have to meet a minimum level of security but more often than not password slackers avoid the complexity and opt for a no-brainer without giving any thought. Password management company NordPass has revealed the UK's top 20 most used passwords. Taking first place again was the word “password” followed by the second most frequent option "123456". The Top Twenty Passwords of 2022 undoubtedly show considerable room for improvement.
Use different passwords
After all, we need and use more and more passwords all the time. As the number of online shops, streaming services and mobile apps increases, so does the number of accounts and passwords. It is unrealistic to expect anyone to memorise multiple, various, lengthy passwords, which have to be changed regularly, without something to help us remember them.
Theoretically, memorization would be the safest method, but it fails in practice. Even UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has acknowledged this and done away with traditional and well-intentioned advice in its recommendations for password administration.
Most importantly, use different passwords for different accounts. The explanation is easy: It is bad enough if a password gets into the wrong hands. And the damage can be quickly minimised if, for example, the intruders only have brief access to a streaming service. On the other hand, if the stolen combination of an e-mail address and password opens one's entire digital vault of goodies, damage can become extensive.
The question that naturally arises is how to remember so many different passwords.
Note it down (?)
It may sound crazy, but it makes sense: Writing down passwords, which for years has been strongly frowned upon, "should not be presented as negative per se." Storing passwords as a physical note is okay provided it is stored correctly; in such a way that it can only be accessed by the person(s) who is supposed to.
Password managers are a convenient option, but according to the NCSC, many people are still sceptical about them. These tools store passwords, forget nothing and offer the service of providing guaranteed random strings as suggested strong credentials. With compatible apps on mobile devices and extensions for web browsers, password managers even make it easier to enter passwords.
The use of 2FA or "two-factor authentication" –also called two-step verification – is highly recommended. This ensures that, when logging in with a login name and password, a second verification component is added to confirm the identity of the user.
Common ways of doing this include e-mails with confirmation links and SMS messages with one-time codes. Most of us have become accustomed to this type of login through our banks. But more and more providers of other services are also offering optional two-factor authentication.
If available, two-factor authentication should always be enabled. It ensures that even those accounts with weaker passwords are well protected.
Wi-Fi extender: The guardian
Password security needs to extend to your private Wi-Fi too. After all, it is the key protecting your home network and all of the devices connected to it. Therefore, you need to pay attention not only to have a secure password but also to have added security functions.
These include, for example, encryption based on current standards (at least WPA2). These requirements must be met not only by the Internet router, but also by all other devices carrying the Internet signal through the four walls of your home – such as Wi-Fi repeaters.
German network specialists devolo provide secure network expansion with the devolo Magic Wi-Fi product series. The versatile adapters transform any power socket into a lightning-fast access point for wired or wireless Internet and meet state-of-the-art security standards: WPA3 and WPA2 with 128-bit encryption secure the home network against intruders. And features like guest access by QR code or app enable users to give their guests passwords that are both complex and secure while still ensuring convenient access.