With so many social networking sites, online banks and a myriad number of other Web sites that require login authentication, creating secure but usable passwords is a near impossibility. Sure, there are services like for storing your passwords, but some worry those could be compromised. There are also tech firms working on the concept of a universal password, but that is still in the very early stages.
Because few of us can remember dozens of different, complicated strings of text, we are left to muddle through with overly simplistic and repetitive password combinations, which are terribly unsafe and easy to hack.
But I am here to tell you that you should never cop out and use a simple password for anything you really want to protect. Okay, maybe you can get away with a simple Twitter password, but can you afford to protect your Gmail account with your birthdate? And don't think things like capitalization or adding 123 to the end of it will help. Hackers figured that stuff out years ago.
As frustrating as it may be, there are good reasons why you should never use simple passwords. Here are five of them.
5. Would you have a universal lock on your front door?
When people move into new homes, they almost immediately have their locks re-keyed and change the passcode on their security systems for safety. Why would you use a password that virtually everyone uses like your birthdate or Password1 to protect your bank account if you would change your locks at your house?
4. Techs sometimes can see them.
When you call in to get tech support, members of support teams generally are not supposed to have access to your passwords and normally must request them from you. But that isn't always the case. It was recently reported that Facebook used to have a master key allowing them to access your private data and your passwords. If someone is going to lay eyes on your password, the least you can do is make it not memorable. For the same reason thieves bypass cars with security systems, unscrupulous hackers will often ignore complicated character strings and look for an easier mark.
3. Once a hacker figures out a pattern, he has you.
Common practice is to pick a couple words and a couple numbers and mix and match them, but that's simply not enough any longer. Hackers have built complex algorithms that can see the patterns in your passwords and once they gain access to those patterns, they can figure out just about any login you use. The only way to prevent that is to use random strings, preferably from a password generator.
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2. People share critical data in lots of different ways.
You probably don't even realize it, but you have likely given away a LOT of information about yourself online. Every time you send some critical piece of information -- a credit card number, your social security number, your driver's license number, your phone number, the name of your bank -- via e-mail, text, through Facebook or Twitter, even inadvertently (mentioned your mom's maiden name might see innocuous unless you use it as the answer to a security question), you leave a trail for hackers to exploit. Using a more complex password means you can share more information without fear it will come back to haunt you.
1. People who know you can exploit simple passwords.
While hackers and thieves seem like the greatest threat, the truth is that it is often someone you know who will use what he or she knows about you to gain access to your accounts. Whether it's a family member, a stalker or a crazy ex, the last thing you want to do is allow that person's knowledge of you to lead to easy access to your sensitive information. It's sweet that you and your boyfriend shared everything, but now that he's the crazy, stalker-y ex-boyfriend, that might not be to your advantage. The more complicated the passwords are, the less likely he'll remember them.