Passwords – Your First Line of Defense on the Dark Web

In a recent blog we tried to help explain exactly what the Dark Web really is.  The truth is that it can be a scary place.  But, there are things you can do to stay safe.  Creating strong passwords is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself.  Passwords are your first line of defense when it comes to the Dark Web.  Let’s take a look at why.

Here’s a quick test – what do these seemingly random alphanumerical groupings have in common?

  1. 12345
  2. 123456
  3. 123456789
  4. test1
  5. password
  6. 12345678
  7. zinch
  8. g_czechout
  9. asdf
  10. querty

They are the top ten passwords used in 2019.  Recognize any of these?  If you don’t, you’re not necessarily in the clear, but your chance of becoming compromised or hacked is far less than someone who uses one of these passwords.  If you do recognize any of these, you’re testing your luck.

These days, creating and remembering passwords has become increasingly more challenging.  If we had only one device that required a password, we could probably manage it quite easily.

But the reality is every device program and websites we use on a daily basis require passwords.  And since we should change our passwords every few months, it is estimated that the average person must memorize up to 191 different passwords.  No wonder we often choose to take shortcuts!

The problem is over 80% of hacks are due to compromised credentials.  And this stolen username and password information are often traded on the Dark Web.  In fact, in one month alone in 2018, Microsoft blocked 1.3 million attempts to steal password data, which would have led to dangerous phishing attacks and other hacking attempts.

These harrowing statistics are why you hear the recommendations:

  • Never use the same password twice (IT Managers report 73% of all passwords used are duplicated in multiple applications, opening up multiple avenues for attack)
  • Don’t ever write down your passwords
  • Be sure not to share your passwords with anyone else
  • Do not use real words or known information about yourself in your passwords
  • Avoid commonly used passwords (50% of all attacks involved the top 25 most used passwords)

Pay attention to that last stat: 50% of all attacks involved the top 25 most used passwords.  See what we meant when we said if you recognized anything on that list you’re testing your luck?  This should make it clear why strong passwords are such an important defense against hackers on the Dark Web.

Following all these rules and regulations, you’ll end up with passwords that are about 16-characters long.  These are impossible to memorize, and, unfortunately, still completely hackable (much more difficult, of course, but where there is a will, there is a way).  So, what do we do now?

Password Manager

The first shortcut is a password manager.  You can store all your passwords in one place.  This makes remembering all your passwords much easier, but there you’re not out of the woods yet.

The password manager is also protected by a password.  If you’re utilizing a software like this, make sure that this password is especially complex, so that hackers aren’t even tempted, especially in the case of a brute force attack.  If possible, turn on multi-factor authentication, especially on your password manager.

Multi-factor authentication

Many sites utilize multi-factor authentication.  This extra layer of protection connects to your phone, email, or other authentication source, rather than relying solely on a password.  We recommend enabling multi-factor authentication wherever possible.

The only caveat here is make sure your secondary authentication source is equally secured with a strong password.  No sense in double protecting yourself with a wide-open source.

Random Password Generators

These sites come up with secure passwords for you, but are typically a random jumble of letters, number, and symbols that are darn near impossible to memorize.   If you’ve got a strong memory, this might be a good starting point.  But if you’re like most of us, this may be more challenging than it’s worth.

Check out a list of password generators here.

How to craft a strong password

Use a “Password Phrase” in place of random letters, numbers and symbols.  Create something that’s easy for you to remember, but has no meaning to anyone else. For example I<3Fh@ck3rs43v3r!.  Breaking this down, you get:

  • I – I
  • <3 – Love
  • F –               fooling
  • h@ck3rs – hackers
  • 43v3r – forever

This would be easy for you to remember because you understand the phrase, but difficult for a hacker to decipher because it’s not made up of real words.  There’s no time like the present to get started and change your easy-to-hack passwords to something safer, because it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Work at creating passwords that will be difficult to hack.  Make sure to change them regularly.  Never write them down, (especially on a Post-it Note stuck to your computer!).  But most of all, make passwords an important part of your life.  Don’t consider them a nuisance or a thorn in your side.

Make a game out of creating passwords.  Challenge yourself to be more creative each time you create one.  Passwords truly are your first line of defense on the Dark Web.  So beat the hackers at their own game.  Make your password too time intensive to try and crack, and you’ll reduce your chance of your information showing up on the Dark Web.

Worried about your information already being available due to past weak password use?  Contact Innergi.  We’ll walk you through updating all of your password and ensure that your data and company are secure.