Passwords How Often Do You Change Them?
Passwords How Often Do You Change Them? Once every so often I think that we need simple password reminders. And, this posting is a gentle reminder of that and also some other ideas you might try if you have the time. The reminder could be for both work and home. 🙂 Because if you have a lot of passwords a good solution needs to be easy to use so you keep up with recommend maintenance.
I always create unique and distinct passwords for all my accounts. It might seem like a lot to remember, but it’s crucial in case a big company like Google, Microsoft, or Apple ever experiences a password breach. And it’s not just about these big names – your bank could have a security issue too! In recent times, many such breaches have been reported in the news. However, it’s the ones that aren’t publicized we should really worry about.
Some folks use the same password for all their online and offline activities. If you count all the different accounts you have, the number might surprise you. This is why people often resort to using weak or easily memorable passwords, which, unfortunately, are perfect targets for password attacks.
Imagine this – one password compromise, and all your accounts are potentially in danger!
And there’s something we often overlook – those security questions websites ask us. Questions like, “What city were you born in?” or “What’s your school mascot?” We hardly ever change the answers to these.
Now, it’s recommended that you change your passwords every two to three months, or even more frequently if you can keep track. Your passwords should be complex enough that others can’t easily guess them. You might also want to consider two-factor authentication, where a code is texted to your phone for additional validation when you’re logging in online. The only downside is that your phone could potentially be used to track you when you use two-factor authentication.
Cloud-Based Password Managers
Luckily, there are solutions like cloud-based password vaults and free password managers where you can store your passwords. Some antivirus programs even offer password managers and vaults.
Passwords are the most common way to verify users for online services, but they’re also the weakest link in security. They’re often reused and easily guessed, making them targets for cyberattacks.
While it used to be advised to change your passwords regularly, this is no longer the best practice. Changing passwords too often might actually make your accounts less secure due to what’s called password fatigue, which might lead you to choose weak or easily guessed passwords.
Use Strong Passwords
The best way to protect your accounts is to use strong, unique passwords for each one, and enable two-factor authentication wherever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a code from your phone in addition to your password when you log in.
Looking ahead, there are some exciting new technologies emerging. One of them is passwordless authentication, which lets you log in without a password, using something you have (like your phone) or something you are (like your fingerprint).
Password managers are another great tool. They can help you create and store strong, unique passwords for each account securely, making managing your passwords much simpler.
In summary, the best way to protect your accounts is by using strong, unique passwords and enabling two-factor authentication. If this seems daunting, a password manager could be your ally, helping you keep your passwords safe and secure.
Simple Security Tips
Here are a few more tips for better password security:
- Avoid using personal information, like your name, birthday, or address, in your passwords.
- Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
- Change your passwords regularly, but not too often.
- Enable two-factor authentication whenever you can.
- Use a password manager to create and store strong, unique passwords
Here are some examples of good and bad password practices. These examples should help to illustrate what you should aim for and what to avoid when creating a password. These are just simple examples to get you curious.
Bad Password Practices:
- Using Personal Information: If your password is something like “JohnDoe1985”, this is a bad password. It includes your name and perhaps your birth year, which are easy to guess, especially for people who know you or can find this information online.
- Common Passwords: Passwords like “123456”, “password”, or “qwerty” are extremely common and can be guessed in seconds by a hacker using a simple script.
- Single Word Passwords: If your password is a simple, common word, like “apple” or “football”, it’s not secure. These are susceptible to dictionary attacks, where an attacker tries every word in the dictionary.
- Reusing Passwords: If you’re using the same password for multiple accounts, you’re making a mistake. If one account gets compromised, all of your accounts are at risk.
Good Password Practices:
- Length and Complexity: A good password should be long (at least 12 characters) and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. For example, “Tr0ub4dor&3” is a much stronger password than any listed in the bad practices.
- Randomness: Passwords that are random strings of characters are much harder to guess or crack. For example, “pR#94$X7!Zq2” is an excellent password because it’s long, includes a mix of different types of characters, and doesn’t include any common words or personal information.
- Using Phrases: You can use a random phrase and replace some characters with numbers or special characters. For example, “IlovePizza@123” is a decent password because it’s long and includes a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Using a Password Manager: A password manager can generate and remember complex, random passwords for you. This way, you don’t have to remember “pR#94$X7!Zq2”, the password manager does it for you.
Two-factor Authentication (2FA)
Please remember, even with good password practices, it’s still crucial to enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible, as it adds another layer of security to your accounts.
Two-factor authentication (2FA), also known as two-step verification or dual-factor authentication, is a security process in which users provide two different authentication factors to verify themselves. This process is done to better protect both the user’s credentials and the resources the user can access.
The two factors in 2FA are typically something the user knows (a password) and something the user has (a physical device). By requiring two different channels of authentication, we can protect user credentials and resources better than with a single-factor password.
One of the most common methods of two-factor authentication involves using a text message or email. After entering the password (something the user knows), a code is sent to the user’s registered mobile number or email address (something the user has). The user then enters this code to access the account. This is often used by banking institutions, email providers, and social media sites.
Example: When you log into your email account from a new device, you might be asked to enter a code that is sent to your mobile phone. This is a form of two-factor authentication.
- LastPass: LastPass is a popular password manager that securely stores your passwords, notes, and other sensitive information in an encrypted vault. It generates strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts and automatically fills them in when you visit websites or use apps. LastPass offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera, as well as apps for iOS and Android. In addition to password management, LastPass also offers features like secure sharing of passwords, two-factor authentication, and a security dashboard that helps you identify weak or reused passwords. LastPass has a free version with basic features, as well as premium plans for individuals, families, and businesses.
- 1Password: 1Password is another popular password manager that keeps your login credentials and other sensitive information safe in an encrypted vault. It offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera, as well as apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. 1Password can generate unique, strong passwords for each of your accounts and automatically fill them in when you need them. Additional features include two-factor authentication, password sharing, a built-in password strength checker, and a “Watchtower” feature that alerts you to security breaches and helps you change affected passwords. 1Password does not have a free version but offers subscription plans for individuals, families, teams, and businesses.
- Dashlane: Dashlane is a password manager and digital wallet that securely stores your passwords, payment information, and personal details in an encrypted vault. It offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Internet Explorer, as well as apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. Dashlane can generate strong, unique passwords and automatically fill them in when you log in to websites and apps. It also offers a password changer that can help you update multiple passwords at once. Additional features include secure sharing of passwords, two-factor authentication, dark web monitoring, and a VPN for added online privacy. Dashlane offers a limited free version, as well as premium plans for individuals and businesses.
- Bitwarden: Bitwarden is an open-source password manager that provides secure storage of passwords, credit cards, and notes in an encrypted vault. It offers browser extensions, mobile apps, and desktop applications. Bitwarden also supports two-factor authentication and secure sharing of passwords.
- Keeper: Keeper is a comprehensive cybersecurity platform that includes a password manager, secure file storage, and a private messenger. It uses zero-knowledge security architecture, meaning only the user can access their stored data.
- NordPass: NordPass is a password manager from the creators of NordVPN. It uses advanced encryption to store your passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive information. NordPass can auto-fill your login credentials and generate strong, unique passwords.
- RoboForm: RoboForm is a password manager that offers automatic form filling, secure password sharing, and two-factor authentication. It can store passwords, identities, and notes.
- Sticky Password: Sticky Password is a password manager that offers automatic form filling, biometric authentication, and secure password sharing. It also generates strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts.
- Authy: While not a password manager, Authy is a popular app for two-factor authentication. It generates secure tokens for two-factor authentication, providing an additional layer of security for your online accounts.
Authenticator applications generate a time-sensitive code that serves as the second factor in the 2FA process. After entering the password, the user opens the authenticator app and inputs the code displayed in the app.
Example: Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator are popular options. When you log into an account protected by Google Authenticator, you’ll enter your password and then be prompted to enter the code displayed on the Google Authenticator app on your smartphone.
These methods provide an extra layer of security, reducing the chances of unauthorized access even if your password has been compromised. It’s recommended to use 2FA whenever it’s available.
- Microsoft Authenticator: This is an app-based two-factor authentication solution that provides an additional layer of security when you log into your accounts. It works across multiple platforms and supports both Microsoft and non-Microsoft accounts.
- Microsoft Azure AD (Active Directory): Azure AD includes various identity and access management solutions for businesses. These solutions include features like two-factor authentication, single sign-on, and identity protection.
- Apple iCloud Keychain: This is a password management system that’s built into Apple’s iOS, iPadOS, and macOS operating systems. It securely stores your usernames, passwords, card details, and Wi-Fi passwords and syncs them across your Apple devices. It can also generate strong, unique passwords for you.
- Google Password Manager: Google has a built-in password manager that stores and manages your passwords for both Google and non-Google services. It’s integrated with Chrome and Android, and it can auto-fill your passwords when you need them. Google also offers 2-Step Verification, a form of two-factor authentication for your Google Account.
- Facebook Code Generator: This is a form of two-factor authentication that generates a code in your Facebook app that you can use when you log in from a new device.
- Amazon AWS Identity & Access Management (IAM): This service enables you to manage access to Amazon Web Services (AWS) resources securely. You can create and manage AWS users and groups and use permissions to allow and deny their access to AWS resources.
- YubiKey: YubiKey is a hardware device that you plug into your computer or connect to your phone to provide an additional layer of security when you log into your accounts. When logging in, you’ll enter your password (something you know), and then insert or tap the YubiKey (something you have). The YubiKey can support different types of 2FA, including one-time passwords, public key encryption, and U2F protocols.
- Google Titan Security Key: Google’s Titan Security Key works similarly to a YubiKey. It provides a second layer of security to your accounts. It’s available in both USB and Bluetooth versions.
- Thetis FIDO U2F Security Key: Thetis offers a hardware security key that uses the FIDO U2F protocol. It’s compatible with many online services and can provide a second factor of authentication that’s resistant to phishing attacks.
- OnlyKey: The OnlyKey is a hardware password manager that stores your passwords directly on the device. You can access your accounts simply by plugging in the OnlyKey and entering a PIN. The OnlyKey can also generate one-time passwords for 2FA.
- Trezor: Trezor is primarily a hardware wallet for cryptocurrencies, but it also includes a password manager that securely encrypts passwords on your device and then stores them on your Dropbox or Google Drive.
Hardware Solutions Pros and Cons
- Increased Security: Hardware solutions are inherently more secure than software ones. They are immune to many types of online attacks such as phishing, keylogging, and man-in-the-middle attacks because they require physical possession of the device to authenticate.
- Resistance to Hacking: Since the device must be physically present, remote hacking becomes near impossible. A hacker would need to steal the physical device to gain access, which is much more challenging than simply cracking a password or code.
- Ease of Use: Many hardware solutions are straightforward to use. For example, hardware keys for two-factor authentication typically just need to be inserted into a USB port and tapped to authenticate.
- Portability: Hardware solutions like security keys or keycards are portable and can be used on multiple devices and platforms. This makes them a versatile solution for securing all your digital activities.
- No Need to Remember Passwords: With hardware tokens, you don’t need to remember complex passwords, which can be a relief for many users.
- Offline Operation: Many hardware security devices can operate offline, providing robust security without the need for an internet connection.
- Physical Vulnerability: If you lose your security key or it gets stolen, you could be locked out of your accounts. This can be a significant inconvenience and may require additional steps to regain access to your accounts.
- Cost: Hardware security solutions are typically more expensive than their software counterparts. This can be a barrier for some users, especially if multiple keys are needed for different devices or accounts.
- Portability Issues: While these devices are generally small and portable, having to carry around an additional piece of hardware might be inconvenient for some users.
- Compatibility: Not all online platforms or services support hardware security keys. While support is growing, there are still many sites and services where you won’t be able to use a hardware key.
- Wear and Tear: Like any physical object, hardware keys can get damaged or stop working over time. This could potentially leave you locked out of your accounts.
- Limited Number of Devices: Some hardware solutions can only be used with a limited number of devices. For example, if your key uses a USB-A connector, it might not work with a device that only has USB-C ports unless you have an adapter.
- User Error: As with any security measure, hardware solutions are not immune to user error. For example, a user may forget to use their security key or not understand how to use it properly.
While browser extensions can be highly useful and provide a range of functionalities, they can also pose several security risks. Yeah, I know I’m talking about passwords but just adding more food for thought and security.
- Malicious Extensions: Some extensions can be malicious, created with the intent of stealing personal information, injecting unwanted ads, or tracking your online activities.
- Data Privacy: Many extensions have access to your browsing data, and while this is often necessary for their functionality, it does mean that unscrupulous developers could misuse that data or sell it to third parties.
- Permissions Overreach: Some extensions ask for more permissions than they need for their functionality. This could potentially give them access to sensitive information or allow them to perform actions without your knowledge.
- Extension Vulnerabilities: Extensions, like any other software, can have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. These vulnerabilities can sometimes be used to bypass the security of the browser itself.
- Updates and Maintenance: If an extension is not regularly updated by its developers, it can become a security risk, especially if vulnerabilities are found and not patched.
- Third-Party Code: Some extensions use third-party libraries or code that can have vulnerabilities or be compromised, which can then affect the extension and its users.
To mitigate these risks, it’s important to only install extensions from trusted sources, check the permissions they ask for, and regularly update your extensions. Also, consider using privacy-focused browsers or settings that limit what data extensions can access
I hope you enjoyed this recap and reminder about changing passwords and what you can do to keep your information protected by good password management.
Let me know if you’d like more information on passwords and password type of security issues. I’ve only touched on the surface.
Thank you! For visiting this post! Your time and interest are truly appreciated. If you found the content engaging or thought-provoking, please feel free to share your thoughts or insights in the comments.
Thoughts & Ideas, Joseph Kravis 🙂