Not all passwords need to be secure, of course, but a password for any account that identifies you personally, such as your primary email account, an online bank account, or an account with any organisation that holds your credit card details, needs to be as secure as possible.
To understand how to create a secure password, you first need to know what makes a password insecure. By putting yourself in the shoes of a cracker, you will see how to thwart their dastardly plans.
How can you make your password strong enough to not get cracked by the bad guys? Here are some tips on password construction you can use to beef up your password.
How to create a strong password
It’s still important to have a strong password though. A good way of generating a password that is hard to guess but easy to remember is to devise a phrase that contains ordinary words, names of people or places (so they start with a capital letter) and numbers. Your password is then obtained by taking the first letter of each word except for the numbers which are represented by figures. So, if your phrase was “Bradford is thirty two miles from Manchester” the password would be Bi32mfM.
Similarly, you can create a password using a line from something easy to remember such as a song or nursery rhyme. It’s easy to remember the first letter from each word of “Jack and Jill went up the hill” and turns into this seven-character password: JaJwuth. Again, names make it easy to introduce upper-case characters.
You can also substitute characters for symbols, numbers or punctuation. Replace any letter ‘i’s with 1s and any ‘a’s with 4s and your password becomes much harder to crack. Christmas, then, becomes Chr1stm4s, which is a strong password.
How to remember passwords :
Using a password manager such as KeyPass will help you to remember lots of strong passwords (making it more likely you will actually use one), but provides no protection from hackers if you continue to use passwords that those with criminal intent might be able to guess.
Do you use any of these bad passwords?
- Your kid’s name
- Always the same one
Why is that not good?
- They are easy to guess or crack. Really easy.
- If one site is compromised, a hacker has access to all your services.
What’s the solution?
- Store your passwords and more in Identity Safe.
- Save Time. Access from anywhere. More secure passwords.
Creating a strong password :
To keep your account safe, here are a few tips on how to create a strong password:
1. Use a unique password for each of your important accounts : Use a different password for each of your important accounts, like your email and online banking accounts. Re-using passwords is risky. If someone figures out your password for one account, it’s possible they could get access to your personal information, or other online services like shopping or banking.
2. Use a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols in your password : Using numbers, symbols and mix of upper and lower case letters in your password makes it harder for someone to guess your password. For example, an eight-character password with numbers, symbols and mixed-case letters is harder to guess because it has 30,000 times as many possible combinations than an eight-character password with only lower case letters.
3. Don’t use personal information or common words as a password: Create a unique password that’s unrelated to your personal information and uses a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. For example, you can select a random word or phrase and insert letters and numbers into the beginning, middle, and end to make it extra difficult to guess (such as “sPo0kyh@ll0w3En”). Don’t use simple words or phrases like “password” or “letmein,” keyboard patterns such as “qwerty” or “qazwsx,” or sequential patterns such as “abcd1234” which make your password easier to guess.
4. Make sure your backup password options are up-to-date and secure: Update your recovery email address regularly so that you can receive emails in case you need to reset your password. You can also add a phone number to receive password reset codes via text message.
Many websites will also give you the option of answering a security question if you forget your password. If you create your own question, try to come up with one that has an answer only you would know. The answer shouldn’t be something that someone can guess by scanning information you’ve posted on blogs or social networking sites.
If you are asked to choose a question from a list, like the city where you were born, try to find a way to make your answer unique by using some of the tips above. That way even if someone guesses the answer, they won’t know how to enter it correctly.
5. Keep your passwords secure: Don’t leave notes with your passwords to various sites on your computer or desk, where people can easily steal them and use them to compromise your accounts. If you choose to save passwords in a file on your computer, create a name for the file that won’t give it away. If you have a difficult time remembering multiple passwords, use a trusted password manager. Be sure to spend a few minutes checking out reviews and reputations of password manager services.
The anatomy of an unbreakable password :
The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. Consider a 12-character password or longer.
Things to avoid: Names, places, dictionary words.
Mix it up. Use variations on capitalization, spelling, numbers, and punctuation.
These three rules make it exponentially harder for hackers to crack your password.
The idea for passphrases is captured quite nicely in this comic from xkcd: