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How strong are your passwords? Hackers are cashing in

Cybersecurity experts suggest a change in strategy
Posted at 3:57 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 20:28:04-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — If a cyber criminal targets you, how strong are your passwords? Hackers are uncovering passwords every day, which is a scary concept because we use passwords to do so much. We need our passwords for everything from social media to online banking, and even to access to work accounts. Cyber experts say we're making it too easy for hackers and we may want to rethink our password strategies.

"People get lazy and they make easy passwords," said National Cybersecurity Center expert Thomas Russell.

Hackers are taking advantage.

"People can use password crackers and they can get it within just minutes, or even hours because as someone is trying to hack something else. He's got a machine working that's checking the passwords of several people at the same time," said Russell.

Russell says stolen lackluster passwords are making cyber criminals rich.

"Those things are sold over, and over, and over again. People make a living off of selling other people's information," said Russell.

A recent study shows 83% of Americans are using weak passwords.
See study here:

Google believes 66% of us use the same password for all our accounts. Hackers are most likely to uncover passwords that are too short and lack special characters.

Google suggests we make sure to have a good back-up email and phone number to reset any accounts that are compromised.

"if you get locked out of your other account it can give you information to get back in there because if that other account is compromised and somebody does have access to that sending information to that account doesn't do a lot of good," said Justin Burr, a Google technology expert.

Cyber exerts say we should make our passwords longer. Start by using three words and combining it with special characters. That way, if you're one of the 10 million Disney+ subscribers who don't want someone taking over your account, or you just want to keep hackers off of your social media accounts, you'll have a password that stands up to cyber attacks.

We understand crafting a new password is and should be a private process. But if you want some ideas or need some help getting started in improving your password, here is a strategy used by the Thomas Russell at the National Cybersecurity Center: National Cybersecurity Center Passwords Made Easy