Passwords are a big deal. Passwords protect your information. The problem is that it is very hard to come up with a good password that cannot be easily guessed by the bad guys. Sometimes we resort to using familiar words or phrases that unfortunately are so common that they become compromised very easy. Other times, we resort to writing them down, but how safe is that?
To have a secure password you must adhere to certain rules that are not very friendly. Here are some quick tips: Never use passwords that contain a sequence of characters. Popular passwords such as “123456” that it is the number one used password. Or, the word “password” that is ranked among the most used. Don’t use the phrase “iloveyou”, you guessed it. This one is very popular too.
Most passwords are compromised using brute force. For example, a hacker might sit at your computer and type every password on a list. One by one he will enter each password into the account until the password matches. When it does, the hacker will make a list of the passwords he was able to use to break in. The list will decrease in numbers but it will be rearranged in the order that they matched; putting the most popular passwords at the top.
Therefore, a password such as “123456” will be put at the top of the list because it has a higher possibility of being correct. When a hacker tries to break into your bank account, this is the first password he will try. If your password matches one of the passwords listed, and if it’s a popular password, your account will be compromised very quickly.
So, if a hacker was to try one password every second, and there were 1000 passwords on the list, the account can be compromised in less than 17 minutes. If your password happens to be in the top 100 most popular passwords, your account can be broken into within two minutes. If your password happens to be similar to the ones written above, your account is toast within three seconds.
Bottom line, all passwords can be cracked but the more unique it is the less likely it will be bothered.
Another way passwords get cracked is by the use of robots. That is, computer programs that will try all the combinations until the password gets cracked. This requires little interaction from a person; except for the fact that the hacker wrote the program. The cracked password will be reported to the hacker when it has been compromised. As the password gets cracked it gets tallied and placed in order at the top of the list making the robot even more efficient.
Computer robots do not get tired of entering passwords, so they are the preferred method of cracking a password. That is the reason why one should create a password that is not only ugly and long so it is not easy to crack, but also you should change it often. (Read my solution here)
The more different types of characters you use the more combinations the hacker must try to be able to guess your password. Therefore, adding an alphabetical character such as a, b, c, etc. is one type. Adding a capital alphabetical character such as A, B, C, etc. is another type. Other characters that can be added are numerical, and symbols as in 123,!@#. The goal is to confuse the hacker.