To create awareness about securing ourselves through better password habits (using strong passwords), every year World Password Day is celebrated on first Thursday of May. It reminds us about the importance of protecting ourselves through strong passwords. One of the important things that affects us from cyber security perspective is the way we use our passwords. Let’s explore password security, its importance, and better ways of using passwords.
History of World Password Day
In 2005, Mark Burnet encouraged people to have a “password day”. in 2013, Intel was inspired by his idea and took initiative to declare the first Thursday of May as World Password Day. Subsequently, World Password Day was key in raising awareness about the importance of password security among en masse.
Why is there a need to create awareness?
Generally passwords are used for authentication in most of the online accounts, such as online banking, online shopping and email. As each of us have multiple online accounts, keeping track of the password for each account becomes difficult as the number of accounts tends to increase every year. Therefore, the general preference is to use a simple password, such as 123456 and password123, and also use the same password for all online accounts. Though this is a convenient option to manage passwords, it results in high level of security risks.
What are weak passwords?
Weak passwords are those passwords that are easy to guess for hackers, it usually contains simple English dictionary words, such as names, numerals, date of birth and city. When you have a weak password, there is a high probability for your password to be hacked.
How can you find out whether your password is hacked?
One of the best website for identifying whether your account has been hacked is “Have I been Pwned“. This website was developed by Troy Hunt and provides information on whether your email addresses and/or passwords have been hacked.
Google has created a chrome extension called “Password Checkup extension” to make it convenient for chrome browser users to check if their passwords are breached. After installing this extension, when you enter the password to access your online account in Google chrome browser, this extension checks the password against the password database that contains data breach information. If the password is in the breached list, this extension pops up an alert about the breach and suggests you to change the password at the earliest. This extension not only saves time but also help protect from using weak passwords.
How to overcome the challenge of managing passwords?
There are two challenges to be addressed, one is using a strong password that is difficult to remember and another one is having unique passwords for various online accounts. A simple solution is using password managers. Password managers are used to store and keep track of all your passwords in a secure way by encrypting it. These password managers contain a master password that acts as a key.
There are two types of password managers:
- Online password managers, such as Google password manager and Lastpass, which stores passwords in cloud.
- Standalone password managers, such as Keypass, which stores password in your local machine.
Choosing a password manager depends on individual choice and needs. A hybrid model can also be considered because of its portability and security. Advantages of password managers include random password generators that create strong passwords, convenient to access anywhere and anytime, and store additional information, such as website URL, username, and expiry date in a secure way.
Finally to celebrate the World Password Day, you can do the following
- Change your weak passwords immediately for all your online accounts.
- Use a password manager to store your passwords.
- Use two factor authentication for your online accounts.
- Create awareness among your friends about World Password Day.