Creating Strong Passwords

Creating Strong Passwords
March 5, 2020 No Comments Uncategorized Carina Carter

Importance of Passwords

Strengthening our passwords is a common warning the news gives us with each new major data breach. Passwords are the most crucial line of defense in keeping our personal information from falling into the hands of family, friends, coworkers, hackers, or anyone else that might wish to access our private accounts. Those few keystrokes protect everything from our social media pages to our bank accounts, which is why creating strong passwords is so important.

The problem is most of us don’t know what constitutes a strong password; And login portals often have different requirements which causes further confusion. Many times, in our quest to create a password that we can remember, we end up choosing things that are easy for others to guess. Hopefully you have moved beyond using “123456” and variations of “Password” as these are the first options that hackers will try. If not, don’t despair! We can teach you to create strong passwords that won’t be instantly forgotten.

Choosing A Password

When choosing a password, it is important to select a combination of numbers and letters that aren’t effortless to guess. A quick online search can reveal addresses, phone numbers, and birthdays. Using those bits of information when creating your password will make it easier to guess and thus should not be used.  This rule applies for any information that is common knowledge about you or your immediate family members. No matter how darling your child is, your password is not a place to include their birthday.

In the case of passwords, size really does matter. If we consider a four-letter password, using only the lowercase alphabet, there would be 456,976 possible combinations. Increasing it by just one letter changes the total combinations to 11,881,376.   Adding uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters only causes those possible combinations to grow exponentially. Hackers using modern computers and rainbow tables can decrypt simple passwords in a matter of hours. The only way to defend yourself is to create longer passwords. 

Method 1

A simple way to create a strong and lengthy password is to take a random sentence. Make sure it is truly random, nothing famous. An example, “My favorite thing about summer is spending time at the beach with a book.” can become “Mftasi$t@tBwab” by using the first letter of each word in the sentence. (Notice the use of “$” in place of an “s” and “@” in place of the word “at.”) What you end up with is a password that contains plenty of digits and is easy to recall by simply recalling the sentence. There are many ways you can be creative with this. Use an ampersand in place of the word “and” or a zero instead of the letter “o.” You can also replace words with symbol combinations such as “<3” for “love.”

The sentence can even be tied in some way to the site you are creating a password for, which will aid in your ability to remember it. Changing the login for you bank? How about “I have two hundred dollars tucked inside a cookie jar in the kitchen.” This could become “Ih2h$tiaCJitK.”

Some additional examples include:

5Afd&Htr0th = Five apples fell down and hit the roof of the house. !GmvfpupPwiw9y0 = I got my very first puppy when I was nine years old.

Method 2

Another option for creating a strong and lengthy password is to use a passphrase. A passphrase is simply where you use your random sentence in its entirety. Using one of the sentences from above, “I have two hundred dollars tucked inside a cookie jar in the kitchen” can be used as a passphrase by simply eliminating the spaces. It becomes “Ihave$200tuckedinsideacookiejarinthekitchen!” (Changing the “two hundred dollars” to “$200” would only be necessary on sites that require the use of a number and special character.) These passphrases are simple for the human brain to remember, and because of their extreme length, are very difficult to decrypt.

Another example:

Staying in touch with friends and family makes my heart happy. = stayingintouchwithfriends&familymakesmy<3happy.

Application

No matter what method you chose to use, longer is better. Also, the examples used in this article are now circulating the internet, so they are no longer secure and should not be used. Take the time to come up with a sentence of your own and see how easy it is to keep your accounts safe from would be hackers.

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