Creating passwords that are strong and memorable is easy – once you learn how – yet it is probably the most frequently asked question I get. Whether you’re young, old, tech-savvy or a novice, everyone has to learn how to create strong passwords or run a very high risk of being hacked.
It’s a new year, so to help you start it off right; here are two resources for you:
The first is my blog Safe passwords don’t have to be hard to create; just hard to guess that walks you through the password creation process. The second is an infographic from Killer Infographics that explains the same concepts through images.
Safe passwords don’t have to be hard to create; just hard to guess
The prospect of changing an internet password or using multiple passwords panics so many people because you believe being safer requires memorizing multiple passwords like Wts4e-_79PBa13^_qnS. Frankly, if I thought I’d have to memorize a dozen passwords like that I too would be anxious.
The result is that many people find the task so daunting that you still resort to using only one password even though you know it’s unsafe particularly if it is a simple one – if it gets compromised all of your Web information is compromised. Or you use several passwords, but they are all short simple words or include numbers that relate to your life they are still too easy to guess. Or, if you made hard to remember passwords (probably because your business or a Web site forced you to) then you likely have a list of the passwords right next to your computer – even though you know this also compromises your safety.
There is nothing complicated about making strong yet memorable passwords
In fact it’s easy and can actually be fun – you just have to know how – and the payoff in increased safety is huge.
A few key aspects of a strong password are length; a mix of letters, numbers and symbols; and using no elements that ties to your own personal information.
Look at a few weak passwords:
- Password – The word “Password” is the most commonly used password and it is pathetically weak – as are ‘default’ and ‘blank’. These are simple words and easily guessed or broken with a dictionary assault on the password.
- Smith1968 – Though this uses 9 characters and includes letters and numbers, names that are associated with you or your family, or uses other identifying information such as birth year, are easily hacked.
- F1avoR – Though it mixes up capitols and numbers, it is too short and substituting the number 1 for the letter l is easy to guess.
Look how easy it is to create strong password:
Use a phrase:
- 2BorNot2B_ThatIsThe? (To be or not to be, that is the question)
- 2_4_6_8WhoDoYouAppreciate? (from the children’s chant)
- L8r_L8rNot2day,AllTheLazyPeopleSay (Later, later, not today, all the lazy people say
Incorporate shortcut codes or acronyms:
- CSThnknAU2day (Can’t Stop Thinking About You today)
- MyWork@MSFTisOver (My work at Microsoft is over)
Play with your keyboard – you don’t have to think of it just as the numbers you see, it can also be a canvas to draw on.
- Make a letter of the alphabet – This W is actually 1qazdrfvgy7, but it’s a lot easier to remember!
- Or start at one point and make a circle – or smiley face. The circle is 76tgbnm,lo98. The smiley face adds ui (the eyes) and hjk for the smile.
If you want additional information about creating safe passwords, check out:
- Bud Logs In – an entertaining video by WatchGuard, a really forward thinking security solutions company.
- Strong Passwords: How to Create and Use Them a really great article by Microsoft.
Now you’re ready to create your own strong, long, mixed-character passwords that people will have a hard time guessing without you needing to break out in a sweat. Have fun and be Safer!