With the advancement in technology, cracking passwords has become increasingly simpler for hackers. The development of programs which can recognize patterns most commonly found in passwords and then use the same to break into someone's account has also heightened the risk to online privacy.

With these programs that can crack passwords, all the previous safety recommendations such as using Upper and Lower characters, Special characters and Digits (ULSD) in a password are becoming almost useless.

People are likely to reuse the same passwords just by altering them slightly or by adding special characters and some are even known to share them.

Data scientists at Preempt analyzed passwords further as recent account breaches have affected large number of accounts in Yahoo, LinkedIn, and more.

Using Very Weak Passwords

To make the research more specific, the scientists set about to find out how many LinkedIn accounts had a weak password before the hack.

They ran an analysis on the known passwords to check how many of them matched the previously used password records that Preempt maintains.

What they found is astonishing, to say the least, as a whopping 63,588,381 (35 percent) of accounts have passwords that have been used previously.

These accounts face a higher risk of getting hacked as the password is readily available in the previously known or used password's dictionary. After the whole research, the scientists summarized the possible reason of the account breach, which has been increasing over time.

People are prone to reuse their old passwords and so they tend to lose their uniqueness and become vulnerable to hackers.

Most of them follow a typical pattern and very often it has been seen that the top 100 patterns can easily break most of the passwords in a company.

Password cracking methods are very advanced nowadays and along with hardware resources, it is only a few minutes' work to crack one.

How Passwords Are Cracked

The scientists at Preempt used brute force method to try and see how long their program would need to crack passwords.

They divided the test in three models depending upon the complexity of the password. It was seen after the research that the most complex passwords could also be cracked by the program, but it took around a month's time.

The moderate level passwords could be broken within a week, whereas passwords which were of low complexity were cracked in a single day.

Protecting Your Password

Users need to make use of effective policies to make their passwords more complex and try using relatively longer ones, which are at least around 12 characters.

Sharing passwords is always unwise, while reusing the same one even after it has expired may also cause security vulnerabilities.

Photo: Christoph Scholz | Flickr

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