Online passwords are ridiculously easy to hack. All it takes is clicking on one malicious link or attachment. And even if you don’t click on a strange link – your info could be compromised through a site you’ve logged on to. That’s because companies’ computer systems are attacked every day by hackers looking for passwords to sell. There’s a black market where passwords can fetch $20 each. Hackers use tools like ‘John the Ripper,’ a free password-cracking program that uses lists of commonly used passwords – and it can test millions of passwords per second!

So, here are tips from former hackers - turned online security professionals - to make your online password hack-proof:

  • First – if your password is one word - consider it prime hacking material. Experts say that the easiest passwords to crack are plain words – or words with slight tweaks, like “soccer13.” Hackers have technology that lets them test hundreds of possible words with added numbers in seconds. But if your password is longer than a one word-number combo, hackers usually move on to millions of other targets.

  • Another way to make your password hack-proof? Pick a song! Let Taylor Swift help you – and use one of her song lyrics as your password, like “We are never ever getting back together.” Plain and simple - the longer your password, the longer it takes to crack. That’s why experts suggest using a snippet of your favorite movie quote or song lyric as your password.

  • And the final password tip: Go random! And when you create a password, simply type randomly all over your keyboard, and every few characters, hit the Shift and Alt keys. But because that cryptic combo is hard to memorize, you’ll need to write it down somewhere that only you can see.

Lesson Expert

Meredith McKenna