Today’s epic LinkedIn hacking has spurred the networking site to prompt countless users to reset their passwords. You’ll receive an email from the site if you’re at risk, but before you come up with another variation of your pet dog’s name, check out this study by Cambridge University computer scientist Joseph Bonneau.
Bonneau analysed how language factors into the ease with which hacker can guess passwords using automated programs.
After setting Yahoo! passwords in various languages, researchers tracked how many times the passwords were guessed out 1,000 attempts.
Chinese proved to be most difficult for hackers, with a 4 per cent success rate. English was hacked successfully at twice that rate, but fared surprisingly better than several other languages, such as French (10 per cent), Indonesian (14.9 per cent) and Vietnamese (14.3 per cent).
See the chart at the end for the full results (success rates are in bold).
Americans are notorious for using simple and easy-to-guess passwords, a habit that’s led Preetam Kaushik from ReadWriteWeb to think we’re better off adopting facial recognition or iris scanners to secure information.
For now, follow these tips from Microsoft to better protect yourself:
1. Length: When it comes to your password size does matter. Aim for at least 8 characters in every password.
2. Complexity: Microsoft urges, “Use the entire keyboard, not just the letters and characters you use or see the most often.”
3. Variation: Don’t use the same password for years. On your most important accounts (email, bank, credit cards, etc.) you should try to change your password at least every three months.
4. Variety: Use different passwords for different sites. Microsoft warns that a hacker can take your password from a site with low security and use it to gain access to everything.