Password Security Tips

Do-It-Yourself Tech Privacy / Security

As technology makes life more convenient, our reliance on passwords to protect our data continues to increase at an alarming rate. The awful truth is that almost any password is breakable; it’s just a matter of time and energy exerted by those interested. As such, creating a solid password is critical. Here is what you need to know about passwords:

The first thing to know is what constitutes bad passwords. When creating a password, try not to use any of the following: only letters or only numbers; names of spouses, children, relatives, or pets; phone numbers, social security numbers, addresses, or birthdays; and words found in the dictionary.

There are two main ways in which you can avoid the pitfalls of the above bad passwords while making a password that isn’t too difficult to remember. First, you can substitute symbols and numbers into ordinary words. For example: password would become p@7sw0rd. The second approach is to take a memorable phrase from a movie or television show and turn it into a password: 1gtmh@ohcr comes from “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Notice that even when using a movie quote that might seem like gibberish when only letters, it’s still best to use a couple numbers or symbols (such as 1 instead of I or @ instead of a).

The best passwords are at least eight characters long and include numbers, letters, and other symbols. The longer you make your password, the longer it will take someone (or a computer program created by someone) to crack it. One study by a password expert suggests that if these rules are followed, it will take nearly two years before your password could be cracked.

Lastly, it’s best to change your password a couple times a year and to not use the same password for all activities. If this seems cumbersome, an alternative is to have three or four good passwords that you rotate among your on-line activities. That way, if you can’t remember what password you are using where, you can always rest assured knowing that it’s one of your main three. Also, there is password management software available that can help you juggle and change passwords more easily.

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