How do you protect your important and identifying information? Do you keep it in your wallet, a folder, a safe? How about your online information? You can have great antivirus software and insurmountable firewalls, but that’s not enough when it comes to safely accessing and using your information online. I know it’s very easy to overlook and even easier to dismiss  the importance, but having a solid password is the first major step toward securing your private online information.

Take a standard 8 digit password using only lower case letters. You have an impressive arsenal of around 208.8 billion password combinations. That sounds incredible, except for the fact that a modern supercomputer or botnet is able to crack a password of this calibre  in as little as 1.8 seconds. But when you add upper-case letters, digits, and symbols your possible passwords skyrocket to over 6.6 Quadrillion (that’s 6,600 x 1 trillion). With this many potential combinations it takes much, much longer to crack even for the most sophisticated super computers.

Of course, having a single complex password is not quite enough as most websites and programs will have different criteria for accepting passwords. Rather than remembering a dozen highly complex passwords for each program you use, you can tone down the mental strain by using a password manager. This saves all of your passwords in an encrypted file, leaving you with a single master password to remember. There are many of these services available online  if you are looking to clean up your password portfolio.

With the rise of online scams and extremely efficient hacking machines, it’s time to reshape how we think of cyber security and to finally stop using the ever popular “password”, “qwerty”, or “123456” to protect your crucial information.