How to choose strong account passwords
Did you know that a computer that used eight Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards has managed to crack an arbitrary 8-character password in only a few hours? GPUs have gotten much faster these days, and they are often used for nefarious purposes, rather than making the newest 3D games shine in their full splendor. I hear you: very few people will build a $10,000 computer to crack your passwords, but anyone can rent Amazon's Cloud Computing power for pennies and do the same job even faster!
Sadly, it looks like even much stronger passwords will be vulnerable in the near future as well. So, how can we make sure that our accounts stay safe? Let's find out!
As you already know, password length matters a lot. The machine that managed to break the 8-character password in about 2.5 hours would need 2.5 days to break a 9-character password, about 2 months to break a 10-character password, and so on. So, choose a password that's got at least 15 characters; a single extra char will boost its security exponentially.
Don't incorporate common words in your passwords, though. A password such as "freedom59peace" won't provide enough security; hackers make use of dictionary-based attacks, utilizing software that can pair tens of thousands of words like these per minute.
Use as many different characters as possible for your passwords. Choose something like "f4%2qN*m';W1q3d/?]" and you should be safe. It is true that these passwords won't be too practical if you need to use and reuse them on a daily basis, but you can use a password manager to store them all. Pick a very strong master password, of course; it's the only one you'll need to remember, so it's well worth the effort.
One word of advice, though: don't choose an online-based password management service. It would be a pity to lose access to all your accounts because the service provider hasn't managed to keep the entrusted data safe! They're your passwords, so you'd better store them locally.
Moving on, there are several other things that you can do to boost the security of your accounts. Some options may not be available for all the online services that interest you, but I thought that it's best to discuss the entire list, and then let you choose the ones that are perfect for your needs.
The first tip is to add another validation method to your accounts. You could use a cell phone or an alternative email address to access the desired online services, for example. By making use of a 2-factor authentication system, you will be able to block any unauthorized person who tries to get access to your account.
Then, ensure that poorly coded applications don't have access to your accounts. It is true that if you don't visit the top network security sites on a daily basis, you may not be able to find out if a certain application is vulnerable or not, so it's best to keep their number to a minimum. Here's a real-life example: you may use a third-party application which turns Google Analytics' data into clean, easy to digest website traffic reports. If that app has unpatched security holes, cyber criminals may get access to your Analytics account, and then spend your ad money on their campaigns. So, go through each account and delete all the apps that request access to your data, unless you really, really need them.
It also helps to keep all your software up to date. Hackers may get access to your accounts not necessarily because they have cracked your passwords, but because they have gotten access to the files that store this information. Always make sure to keep the operating system and all the installed applications patched. And if a certain program isn't patched anymore, get rid of it for good.
Finally, remove the installed browser extensions; some of them may provide useful information and features, but they will make your devices more vulnerable. To give you an idea, some extensions will intercept people's passwords, and then upload them to the hackers' servers.
Don't forget that if you see any suspicious activity in one of your accounts and you need help, we are only a phone call away.