If you’re like most internet users, you have experienced a hacked email account or some other online account. Most people assume that like credit card fraud your password was stolen in some unknown way, but the actual reason is actually far more simple.
They guessed at your password and got it right.
You’re probably thinking there is no way this can be true but it most definitely is. The catch is that it wasn’t a person doing the guessing, it was a computer or more specifically a program. The technique is called Brute Force. By guessing thousands of passwords a minute, it is only a matter of time before they get your password right.
Thankfully, by understanding how this works, you can protect yourself.
Most password generators use statistics to increase their odds of success and one of the ways they do this is by using an English dictionary for their guessing. Other tricks include using all lowercase letters or only the capitalizing the first letter of the word. These are all common items found in passwords and by employing these techniques with the luxury of being able to guess so many in such a short period and it’s not hard to see why so many get hacked.
So how to protect yourself? Well God’s word is always a good place to turn for wisdom and security… So that’s why we argue that using scripture is a great strategy. Read more to find out why.
Before we answer that though, here are the rules for a secure password:
1. At least 1 lowercase letter
2. At least 1 uppercase letter, preferably not the first letter only.
3. At least 1 number.
4. At least 1 special character.
5. Not comprised solely of an English word or combination of English words.
6. At least 12 characters long but preferably even longer. It seems for security that longer is better but some sites will limit you to only 16 characters.
7. Find a way to change up your password so that you aren’t using the same password on multiple sites.
To accomplish this task, we like to use a sentence or phrase and then take the first letter of each word in that sentence and use it for the password. The trick is finding a sentence that meets all of the criteria above. The good news is that almost all of scripture does this!
For example, let’s take a popular Bible verse and give it a try.
Philippians 4:13 – For I can do everything though Christ, who gives me strength.
The password for this would be: P4:13-FIcdetCwgms. Despite looking like complete nonsense, this password is easy to remember and best of all, meets all of the criteria we specified above except number 7.
To accomplish number 7, we recommend adding a letter to the end or beginning of the password that marks the website. For example, if it was for Facebook, it would be letter F. Twitter would be T and so on. Therefore, your Facebook password might be P4:13-FIcdetCwgmsF and your Twitter password would be P4:13-FIcdetCwgmsT.
If you are using passwords that don’t meet this criteria, we recommend you take the time to change them ASAP. It’s a little tedious but worth the time and effort. Focus first on your email accounts as they are the easiest to crack and then move to social media and banking.
In the end, it’ll take some time but you’ll be able to sleep easy knowing your accounts aren’t susceptible to hacking via brute force and maybe even memorize some scripture along the way. It’s a win win!