The Risk in Weak Passwords

You might not think much about your passwords. As long as you have them, the logic would follow that you should be fine, secure, and safe.

Except passwords don’t really work that way. Some are weak and some are strong and some are very strong. The difference between a weak password and a very strong password is the difference between someone breaking into your account (and causing you loss or massive inconvenience) and your accounts staying private, safe, and undisturbed.

Weak passwords don’t seem like a problem until it’s too late. But you should eliminate them before the problems arrive.

Why weak passwords are dangerous

Weak passwords put your accounts at risk

Weak passwords can effectively be no passwords depending on how weak they are. Studies commonly show that the most common passwords are “12345”, “password”, a name of the company or service, or the name of the individual’s account, whether it’s their actual name or their email. These are often the first attempt for any hacker or even common criminal trying to get into an account. If you use one of these passwords, you’re practically leaving your door open to your account.

Weak passwords are too easy to guess

You may not have gone the mindless route of adding a password that’s trivial to guess, but weak passwords can also be easy to guess depending on what tools or techniques are being used to ‘crack’ passwords. A simple 6-8 character password that’s a known word without any capital letters or numbers is vastly easier to crack using an automated tool than a 10+ character password that’s an assortment of random letters, numbers, and symbols.

Weak passwords make data breaches more dangerous

A password is weak if it’s used on any other account. As soon as a password is reused, it’s instantly riskier. That’s because any data breach that gives away password data will feed hackers tools or methods, allowing them to try those passwords on any account via automated tools. The more common the password is (especially if it’s reused), the more likely it’ll be one of the first passwords to be attempted on an account. This also brings us to our next risk.

Weak passwords lets hackers get into other accounts

If you reuse a password that gets leaked in a data breach, it becomes an easy task for a hacker to take that email and password combination and try it on any number of other accounts. This is why reusing passwords is risky, even if you’re reusing it on what seems like a harmless account.

Weak passwords lead to account takeovers

Ultimately, with weak passwords, the nightmare scenario becomes more and more likely. Your social media account is taken over, your reputation is tarnished and you spend months trying to undo the damage. Or your bank account is hacked, drained, and you’re left struggling to make ends meet while you try to get your money back. Or you become the victim of identity theft and won’t realize that you’ve been harmed until months or years down the line.

These seem like extreme examples but they’re not. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to secure your accounts with strong passwords, 2FA, or a password manager. It’ll require a bit of effort, but it’s absolutely worth it.

Photo by Safar Safarov on Unsplash

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