How vulnerable are your passwords?

by Gabriel E. Hall - -
Password vulnerability

How easily can my password get hacked?

Passwords are hacked much more frequently than you might expect. This thought may be really frightening – after all, we keep a lot of personal information online.

Password vulnerability

By breaching your password, a hacker can obtain a lot of information about you by reading your emails, steal your money by using your bank account or even take over your online identity.[1]

According to the statistics, two out of five people have experienced online security problems, for example, had their account hacked or a password stolen.[2] And with all that malicious ransomware[3] sneaking from various corners of the Internet, how can we be sure that we have done everything to protect our privacy?

The problem is that many people simply use the same old password for all of their accounts. What is even worse, this kind of passwords are usually very simple, not containing any numbers or symbols.

You see, having your cat’s name as the password for your financial accounts might not be such a good idea – it takes very little time to breach simple letter combinations.

To find out whether your password can be easily hacked, you can use this online tool that will tell you how much time it will take to hack it.

For example, an eight-letter word will only take 5 seconds – isn’t that too little? Adding one extra letter will prolong the time to 2 minutes, but it is still not enough.

Now let’s add a number to the nine-letter word, and the hacking time will be extended to 1 day – much better! One more symbol, and the time is prolonged to 11 years.

As you can see, adding extra numbers and symbols can significantly improve the security of your privacy.

Has your password been breached?

Unfortunately, having a complicated password might be useless if the password database of a website gets hacked. This is extremely dangerous if you use the same word or a combination of symbols for all (or most of) your accounts.

In May, 2017, a huge database of passwords and email addresses was leaked, which contained 560 million passwords.[4]

Even though the majority of them were quite old, this is still concerning, knowing that many people use the same one for many years.

To find out whether any of your accounts were breached, you can use an online tool Have I Been Pwned. Here, you have to type in your email address or username in order to find out whether it has been compromised.

This tool analyzes database dumps and pastebins that have the information of millions of accounts.

If you happen to find out that one or some of your accounts were compromised, simply change the password. You can also click on Notify me when I get pwned to get a notification when any breaches happen.

What is two-step authentication?

If you want to drastically increase your online security, start using two-step authentication (also known as two-step verification).[5] In this way, you need two steps to sign into your account.

The first one would be entering your password. Then, the user gets a message into their phone, containing a unique set of characters, which have to be entered in order to sign into the account.

This method ensures a much higher level of safety because you must have your phone with you when signing in. In this way, your password is not enough to breach your account.

Instead of a text message, you can also use an authorization app.

Why should I delete my old accounts?

Having old unused accounts might really increase the level of danger regarding your personal data. Even if you don’t use them anymore, these accounts might still get breached and a lot of personal data might leak, including photos, messages, connections, addresses, and so on.

What is more, if the same password is used for your old and new accounts, hackers can use it to compromise your current data. Consequently, the best way to deal with this problem is deleting your old accounts that you don’t use anymore.

Probably the simplest way of deleting your old accounts is using a website, which alleviates the process significantly.

As you can see, there are quite a few ways to protect your accounts from hackers. Of course, they might require some of your time, but your online safety is worth the effort.

About the author

Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Antivirus software specialist

Gabriel E. Hall is an antivirus software specialist at

Contact Gabriel E. Hall
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