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Surging number of cyber attacks are being fueled by ineffective passwords

Google reports 66% of users repeat same password
Surging cyber attacks are being fueled by ineffective passwords
Posted at 5:19 AM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 18:42:57-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — The COVID-19 pandemic has created a golden age for hackers. Cybersecurity experts have seen an uptick in attacks across the board and one of the biggest mistakes leaving us at risk is the use of ineffective passwords.

Right now there are major concerns about cyber attacks on government and medical agencies. If those types of organizations are vulnerable you probably are too, especially if you're working from home.

Cybersecurity threats were a problem prior to the pandemic, but with all this tech people are using working from home the experts say it has become a target rich environment for hackers. So while we are all protecting ourselves from the coronavirus by staying home, experts and even former hackers themselves say it's just as important to protect yourself in cyber space.

"We've seen a lot of hackers capitalize COVID-19 by creating malicious websites and sending emails related to COVID-19," said security engineer Maya Levine.

"What we saw were over 2,500 domain registrations every single day, exponentially larger than anything i have ever seen," said Blackstone Law Group cybersecurity expert Alex Urbelis.

Hackers are hoping to take advantage of this environment by getting you to click a link, give up sensitive information through emails or those thousands of impostor websites they've set up.

So how do you better protect yourself from these cyber attacks? Here's some advice from the experts.

- Never click on a link you're unsure about
- Try not to repeat passwords and make them as strong as possible.
- Use two factor authentication. That way you know if someone is trying to access your accounts.

If a cyber criminal does target 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.

Stolen and lackluster passwords are making cyber criminals rich. Once they get their hands on a password it is packaged and sold over and over again on the dark web. It's something Thomas Russell at the National Cybersecurity Center raised the alarm about in an interview with News5 back in 2019.

"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," Russell warned.

Recent research shows 83% of Americans are using weak passwords. 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.

Do you realize you need help crafting a new password? Experts say start by using three words and combining them with special characters.

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