How strong is your password?

As more and more cloud services require you to log in with a username and password, as opposed to being locally stored on your computer, it is important to evaluate the strength of your password. As the average web user has around 25 accounts, but only uses 6.5 passwords to secure them, the risk of multiple accounts being taken over increases.

As computing becomes more powerful, this reduces the costs for hackers to run programs to crack passwords. A ‘PC running a single AMD Radeon HD7970 GPU can try on average an astounding 8.2 billion password combinations each second’. However, the main culprits are simplistic passwords such as ‘123456’ or ‘password2’, which are the first attempts that password crackers will try.

As this xkcd comic explains however, it is not simply a matter of substituting numbers for letters which makes a more secure password. At a basic level, it is much more effective to create a longer password with common words, as there are more bits of entropy, thus vastly lengthening the time it takes password cracking algorithms to work through password lists.

Unfortunately however, it is not just the individual that is responsible for password security, as Wired’s Mat Honan found out, when hackers took over virtually all his online presence through social engineering.

Whilst major companies are now revaluating the password retrieval services, the most important thing for individuals to do is to make sure their password is secure, unique to that service and regularly changed. Symantec have an article here with useful tips to make your password as secure as possible.

As the cloud becomes more ubiquitous for both personal and business computing, password security will only become more important. Make sure you don’t get caught out!

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