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New one-stop password checker unveiled by Google


New one-stop password checker unveiled by Google

Many internet users leave their accounts vulnerable to hacking by choosing unimaginative passwords like ‘123456’ or any of the others on this list, but more complex passwords can fall into the wrong hands. This week, Google introduced a new tool to let people know the strength of their passwords and whether they have been compromised.

Using Password Checkup, Google Chrome users can check the status of all their saved passwords in one mouse click, and are given actionable advice if they need to change them.

The tech giant says it has detected more than four billion passwords and usernames that have been subject to breaches by third parties, and the tool will let users know if theirs is one of them. It will also highlight if the same password is being used across several sites and will identify and recommend any weak passwords to be changed.

Google has unveiled the tool as part of Cyber Security Awareness Month, and has given some eye-opening statistics about passwords in the US to accompany it. These include three quarters of Americans (75%) admitting that keeping track of passwords is a source of frustration to them, nearly a quarter (24%) picking an obvious password like ‘Password’ or ‘abc123’, and a third (33%) including a pet’s name. What’s more, over a quarter (27%) of respondents said they had tried to guess someone else’s password, with 17% of that figure getting it right.

How can I make my passwords more secure?

Simple tips to strengthen your passwords include:

• Using a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters like ? and #. Indeed, many sites now won’t accept passwords without these
• Avoiding widely known details like the name of your pet, partner, children or favourite football team, even if you swap letters for numbers
• Choosing long passwords rather than short ones. Some analysts argue that length is a more important factor than complexity in making passwords secure
• Not using the same password for multiple sites

The blog post announcing the tool reiterates Google’s desire to eventually phase out passwords altogether, saying “trust us, we’re working on it”. Until that day, we all need to show initiative in how we choose and manage passwords and remain vigilant to any breaches.

John Murray

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