Back-to-Basics: Passwords

Back-to-Basics: Passwords

Matt Blowes September 05, 2014 Security

For something so simple, having an ineffective password can have extreme consequences. Having a lengthy password that is regularly changed is highly recommended.

So what are some tips to avoid having your account username and password broken into? Here are four simple steps. 

1. Make your password more complex than a word

Single word passwords do not work. Try adding another word or a phrase and use capitals for emphasis. You can even use spaces.

2. Long passwords are better than complex passwords

No matter how complex you make your password, if it is short, it will be compromised. A long password is the most effective way to have a secure password. 16 characters is the recommended minimum length. Obviously remembering such a long password may be difficult, so using a nonsensical phrase with a couple of characters thrown in may help. Renowned internet comic website xkcd offers this observation:

3. Throw in some special characters

Special characters like punctuation points or symbols can make passwords secure and are often a requirement. Intel suggests using emoticon shortcuts as a way of making passwords more interesting and memorable. Examples include :-), ^_^, d(-_-)b.

4. Vary your current passwords

Having the same password for many websites is obviously a bad idea but coming up with and remembering many passwords can be unrealistically difficult. Thankfully there are shortcuts.

Adding helpful but not obvious characters to your password can make them memorable and varied. If your password is Compl3x-passw0rd, you can use Compl3x-passw0rd(fb1) for Facebook or Compl3x-passw0rd:twt for Twitter.

Password keychain services can be useful, however a very secure password is recommended.

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