In an age where our lives are increasingly integrated online, cybersecurity is more important than ever. Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting online information, systems, and networks from malicious parties. Whenever you access your email, check your online banking, or make a post on Facebook, you are relying on cybersecurity systems to keep your personal information safe. 

Requiring that users enter their password is a common security practice, but it is nowhere near hacker-proof. A common password-hacking strategy is the brute-force attack. This is when a hacker uses an automated program to guess random passwords until the right one is found. The dictionary attack is a similar hacking strategy, where guesses come from a list like the 10,000 Most Common Passwords.

The easiest way to prevent this kind of breach is to use strong passwords. First, to protect against dictionary attacks, never use a common password like “1234” or “password”. Second, to protect against brute-force attacks, consider how the length and characters used affect the guessability. Hackers often start by guessing short passwords using limited types of characters, so the longer and more special characters used, the better.

Using the Strong Password Exploration Maple Learn document, you can explore how susceptible your passwords may be to a brute-force attack. For example, a 6-character password using only lowercase letters and numbers could take as little as 2 seconds to hack.

Whereas an 8-character password using uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and 10 possible special characters could take more than 60 hours to crack.

These hacking times are only estimations, but they do provide insight into the relative strength of different passwords. To learn more about password possibilities, check out the Passwords Collection on Maple Learn

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