Did you know password complexity is critical to protecting your online accounts? You probably did, but over 60% of users still reuse passwords or use a variation of a password for multiple accounts. Password manager LastPass recently released their Psychology of Passwords report and found that 62% of users reuse or reuse parts of their passwords for multiple accounts. LastPass suggests, “No generation is immune to password mishaps, confidence is creating a false sense of security, and awareness doesn’t translate into action.”

Why password complexity is critical

Passwords are the gateway to our online accounts. Because of this, cybercriminals actively try to obtain known passwords and try to crack your passwords. Once a cybercriminal accesses your account, they can take full control over it, leaving you locked out, permanently. Depending on the account they access, you could have a very bad day.

What you can do

It is important to never reuse passwords or to use a variation of a password. Always make every password unique and different.This helps prevent cybercriminals from using similar passwords to get into multiple accounts of yours.

It is also important to make passwords long. Previously 8 characters was long enough, then it became 12 characters. I recommend using a minimum of 16 characters, but it is better to use even more. To learn more about the time it takes to crack passwords check out this article by TechRepublic.

The complexity of a password is also based on the types of characters used in it. Using upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters is a must. You also want to avoid common patterns, like using repetitive or sequential characters, like “1234” or “!@#” when creating a password. Another thing to not do is include things like “Fall2022” or “Winter2022” either.

Password Managers

You are now probably thinking, “Uhhh, you are crazy if you think I can remember all of these password rules along with remembering my passwords!” And you know what, you’re right! This is why I also recommend using password managers, like LastPass, Dashlane, or 1Password. These tools can create complex, long, and special character passwords for you and organize them in a secured user interface so you never need to remember them. You only need to remember the password to access your password manager.

On top of password managers, I recommend using multifactor authentication to add an additional layer of security to your accounts!