Creating A Better Password

If you’re like me you probably have passwords for nearly everything.  Work email; home email; online forums; banking; ebay; twitter; Facebook; and dozens of others.  As a parent (and a busy one – right) you need to make sure that cute little techno wizard you’ve raised doesn’t hack into your PC and start using or viewing stuff that you’d rather keep secure.  A good password is important, but a great password is even better.  Here are some hints and tips for you to create secure passwords…..

Length –Come on guys, admit it…size really does matter.  The longer it is…the harder it is – to hack.  Most applications or websites have their own unique requirements for PW length.  If they don’t you should know that longer is better – eight or more characters should be the minimum.

Complexity – Try to use something that goes beyond the basic all lower case letters and don’t use a common word found in the dictionary.  If you really want to make it hack proof you need to use a combination of letters, punctuation, symbols, numbers, and don’t forget Upper and Lower case variations.  Try to avoid common spelling techniques.  For example, if you wanted to use your dog’s name as a password, try spelling it incorrectly and stick a capital letter in the middle where it does not belong – like ….$4mydoGsparKy (which you remember as “money-for-my-dog-sparky).   The more varied characters in your password, the better.  Keep in mind that hackers can build code checkers that look for common letter-to-symbol conversions and other acronyms too.

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Variation.  – You really should change your passwords on a regular basis.  I however hate doing this because it means I cannot remember what it was…or what I changed it to either!  At least do this on the critical accounts like for your banking or Paypal accounts.  Sometimes it can be something as simple as appending a progressive variation. Such as $4mydoGsparKy2 becomes $4mydoGsparKy3 which becomes $4mydoGsparKy4…and so on.  Not as secure but easier for you to remember.

Variety – For God’s sake please don’t  use the same password for every application or site you visit.  This is the first domino that a hacker trips once they have any of your passwords…. and why the prior example is not recommended either, but it’s your choice.  Seriously, do not use the same password for your Facebook account for your online banking account login.  That’s just begging somebody to steal you blind!

Avoid – Don’t use these approaches because they are so easy to hack:

  • Common dictionary words
  • Consecutive sequences or repeated characters like 12345678, 222222,
  • Personal information. Your name, birthday, driver’s license, passport number, or similar information.
  • Don’t use the word “password” as your password

Sentences – One technique for creating a useful password is to type a complete sentence instead of a word.  The more obscure the better.  Drop the spaces; avoid proper spelling and punctuation; syntax and grammar can also be tossed.  For example:  “I like black eyed peas” can become “ilikeBlackeyedPees1984”.

I also knew one co-worker who used first letter-only sentences for his passwords, which can work if your sentence is not a common motto, phrase or quote.  For example – FSASYAGA is shorthand for “Four Score And Seven Years Ago Gettysburg Address”…but don’t use that because it’s a very famous opening line from a speech – right?

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Here’s some websites you can visit to test your passwords:

https://www.microsoft.com/security/pc-security/password-checker.aspx(link is external)

http://www.passwordmeter.com/(link is external)

http://howsecureismypassword.net/(link is external)

 

Here are some sample results for a desktop PC programmed to hack your PW:

 

PASSWORD                                    RESULTS

Sparky                                    Cracked instantly

..sparky                                   Cracked in an hour

Mydogsparky                          Cracked in 10 days

Mydogsparky2                        Cracked in 37 years

..mydogsparky                        Cracked in 24K years

$4mydogsparky                      Cracked in 125K years

$4mydoGsparKy                     Cracked in 26M years!

ilikeBlackeyedPees1984         Cracked in 21 SEXTILLION years!!

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