According to 2021 research from cyber security firm PurpleSec, there were an average of 80,000 cyber attacks daily in 2018. Fast forward to 2022 and that figure has increased dramatically. Now, there are an average of 2,244 attacks per day.
As if that wasn’t sobering enough, here are a few more statistics:
- In 2022, experts predict that a ransomware attack will occur every 11 seconds.
- The total cost of cybercrime hit $945 billion in 2020, by 2025 this is expected to rise to $10.5 trillion.
- Around 70% of the world’s most popular passwords can be hacked in less than a second.
Why are cyber attacks increasing?
A range of complex and interrelated factors. As the world moves towards greater digitalization and our technologies advance accordingly, so are the tools threat actors have at their disposal. We are also increasing the amount of activity we carry out online as opposed to offline.
In the last few years, we have seen the rise of enterprise-level criminal activity with Ransomware as a Service and other software tools sold or supplied on subscription to malicious actors. This has led to a situation whereby cybercriminals, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attack individuals or corporate entities, now have the ability to do so.
In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic saw networks dispersed instead of centralized in offices. This made the individual users a far easier target.
The importance of keeping your passwords safe
Your passwords are the key to your digital life. They need to be kept secure so you don’t fall victim to financial losses, extortion, or identity theft. You can do this by following these guiding principles:
- Use strong passwords
- Protect your passwords
- Follow digital hygiene best practices
- Do not use the same password for multiple accounts
Follow these tips to create strong passwords and passphrases
- Make your passwords or passphrases long. The minimum recommended length is 12 characters as statistically, the longer your passwords are the harder they are to crack. Passphrases allow you to create both long and memorable passwords, for example, “7eight un*cOrns gr33n anD chUnky” has 32 characters.
- Make your passwords unique. Avoid the world’s most common passwords at all costs. Remember, if a password is common knowledge, threat actors know about it too. Passwords such as “iloveyou”, “qwerty”, “rental”, and even “password” should be consigned to the rubbish bin.
- Make your passwords complex. Use a good mix of upper and lower-case letters, special characters such as brackets, hashes and stars, numerals, and punctuation including hyphens, em and en dashes, and full stops.
Of these three “golden” rules of passwords, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recommends that length is prioritized.
A few ways to keep your new, strong passwords secure
While passwords are your first line of defense against cyberattacks, you should add a few extra layers of protection by following a few digital hygiene best practices. Let’s take a quick look at those now.
Use a password manager
Not only will your password manager help you keep track of all your new long and complex passwords, but it will also automatically log you into the websites or apps you visit if you hold an account. It’s super convenient and more secure than relying on your browser’s in-built password management system.
You only need to log in to your password manager once with a master password and the software does the rest (just remember to sign out once you’re finished with your browsing session or your work for the day).
Log in to accounts from secure and trusted networks
Compromised or unsecured networks represent a significant threat to individual users. Via unsecured networks, threat actors can capture your user IDs and passwords, launch malware on your device, and carry out other nefarious actions.
Unsecured networks can be categorized as any network you do not know or trust. For example, free WiFi in airports or in city centers. If you absolutely must log in to your accounts from an unknown network, make sure your VPN is turned on to shield your activity from any would-be cybercriminals.
Robust and well-protected passwords are your first line of defense against cybercrime. Avoid becoming a statistic by following the guiding principle we’ve covered above.
- A Concise Guide to Keeping Your Passwords Secure in 2022
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