Passwords are very much like the keys you use to lock and unlock your front door, your bike, or any valuables. Like your everyday keys, passwords must be unique so that no one can guess them and access your email, social media, or bank account. Yet there are two essential questions to keep in mind when choosing a password: how do you make sure you create a secure combination, and how will you remember it?
Below you’ll find a few different ways to help you find the right passwords and PINs.
The importance of a secure password
Cybercrime is a serious problem, and one that impacts people and companies alike. While hackers rarely try to guess a single password to access a user's personal information, they do conduct something called "dictionary attacks." These can target thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of users, at the same time. Using automated systems, cybercriminals attempt to guess user information by trying combinations of commonly-used emails and passwords.
If your password is too simple, it’s much easier for hackers to find it in a password dictionary. Depending on the platform under attack, they may be able to get authentication and get access to sensitive data.
Different methods for choosing a strong password
Choosing a unique password never seems like an easy endeavor, and judging its strength can be a challenge. Thankfully, there are several techniques that can be employed to create difficult-to-guess passwords. And while many service providers now impose rigid guidelines to ensure you choose a strong password, there are also other factors to consider:
Avoid repetition or number sequences. If your password consists of repetitive elements or a series of numbers, hacker algorithms will find it easier to guess it.
Don’t use words or numbers that relate to yourself. It is important to avoid using numbers or words that are directly related to you or your habits – an example being your address, or your date and place of birth. This information is easy for cyber attackers to find, allowing them to use it to explore combinations that make up your password.
An engineer from N26’s security team puts it like this:
"Let's take the example of a public Instagram account. Hackers can easily detect the city you live in, or the place where you spend most of your holidays. If you’re often in Marseille, their systems will focus on this city and try to see if your password contains this place. If you’re using Marseille1313, your password can be easily guessed.”
Here are tips and tricks can also ensure your password is more secure:
Avoid patterns on a keyboard. This is because hackers know that many people tend to choose their passwords based on a keyboard pattern.
Pick random words, numbers, and special characters. A technique that improves the security of your password is to choose a random sequence – for example, one consisting of 4 complete words and other characters.
Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Hackers know that this is a widespread trend, and it allows them to hack into your accounts much more easily.
"The question of how often passwords should be changed is a matter of debate. If it’s complicated enough, it shouldn’t be necessary. But if there’s any doubt about whether a third party has access to your data, it should be changed straight away,” explains our security team. “If you think that a third party has been able to access your bank account, it’s advisable to block your card and immediately contact your bank's customer service department."
Essentially, the longer your password is – and the more randomly chosen words, special characters and numbers it contains – the more secure it should be. It’s important to remember that all the platforms you use should have a strong password. This should not just be restricted to your banking app or personal online accounts.
The more information a hacker has about you, the more likely they’re to engage in malicious activities such as trying to access your personal details and accounts. For example, if your Amazon account is hacked, those responsible may well use it to make fraudulent orders or make purchases on your behalf.
How to choose a secure PIN
Like passwords, PIN codes are used to authenticate that it is you trying to access your account. They are composed of numbers and are used for debit cards, SIM cards and sometimes credit cards.
In order to choose the most secure PIN, it’s important to choose numbers at random, avoiding repetition or personal information such as your date of birth or postal code or any other number relating to you and your habits.
N26 automatically detects if your PIN code is not secure enough. If the one you choose doesn’t comply with the defined security measures, it will ask you to enter a new one. Since you can customize your PIN code and reset it whenever you want via the app, feel free to choose a PIN code that seems complicated. Even if you forget it, you can always change it.
To ensure the security and confidentiality of your personal data and information, we encourage you to use secure passwords and PIN codes on all of your platforms and services.
Is it a good idea to use a password manager and/or generator?
The password generator
You can find many password generators online that randomly provide you with word combination, numbers and special characters to make up a secure password on a turnkey basis. Although these generators can be useful, the passwords they suggest are often impossible to remember.
The password manager
These days, having to remember so many passwords, how can you avoid clicking on “I forgot my password” every other week? Well, this is where a password manager comes in.
"Password managers are essential. No one should have to remember all of their passwords. The manager asks you to remember only one password that then allows you to access the others, all stored in an encrypted way," explains our security team.
The password used to access the manager is only known to the user, and, if it is sufficiently secure, it means that all of your passwords are safe and you don’t have to remember every single one.
On top of this, password managers usually offer an integrated password generator that will suggest a secure combination as soon as you need to create one. If you choose to use the one provided, it will then be saved by your password manager.
Open an N26 account today and experience security features designed for your mobile banking lifestyle. Lock and unlock your card right from your phone, set spending and withdrawal limits, enable or disable international spending right from the app, and get instant notifications on all transactions for peace of mind wherever you are.
The N26 account is offered by Axos Bank®, Member FDIC. N26 Inc. is a service provider of Axos Bank. All deposit accounts of the same ownership and/or vesting held at Axos Bank are combined and insured under the same FDIC Certificate 35546. All deposit accounts through Axos Bank brands are not separately insured by the FDIC from other deposit accounts held with the same ownership and/or vesting at Axos Bank. The N26 Visa® Debit Card is issued by Axos Bank pursuant to a license by Visa U.S.A. Inc. The N26 Visa Debit Card may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.