Creating a Strong Password

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A password is your final line of defense in computer security. We often hear complaints about how hard it is to remember passwords. So typically people choose bad passwords because they are easy to remember. Here are some tips on making a memorable, strong password.

Suggestions for Creating a Strong Password:

  • Should be at least eight characters long
  • Contain Uppercase letters
  • Contain Lowercase letters
  • Contain Numbers
  • Contain Characters
  • Does not contain your user name, real name, or company name.
  • Does not contain a complete dictionary word.
  • Is significantly different from previous passwords.

Avoid the following in creating your passwords

  • Name of family members, friends or pets.
  • Personal information about yourself or family members.
  • This includes the generic information that can be obtained about you very easily, such as birth date, phone number, vehicle license plate number, street name, apartment/house number etc.
  • Sequences. i.e consecutive alphabets, numbers or keys on the keyboard. for e.g. abcde, 12345, qwert.
  • Real word from any language
  • Word found in dictionary with number substitution for word look alike. for e.g. Replacing the letter O with number 0. i.e passw0rd.
  • Any of the above in reverse sequence
  • Any of the above with a number in front or back.
  • Empty password
  • Do NOT use single “hacker phrases” as passwords e.g. “M1cr0$0ft” or “P@ssw0rd”
  • Do NOT write down the password on a post-it and stick it on the monitor.

So how do I create a strong password that I can remember?

Creating a strong password is a challenge. Creating a strong password that you can remember is even more of a challenge. A true strong password should could be part of a “passphrase”. A passphrase consists of a phrase that has special meaning to you, therefore making it easier to remember. For example:

Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer, ever!

One simple approach to create a better password is to take the first letter of each word in your passphrase, giving you:

mpitgse

That looks seemingly random, and it’s a fairly hard password to crack. But it is only 7 characters. We could make it stronger by using the punctuation from the sentence.

mpitgs,e!

That is a much harder password to crack. Let’s step it up a bit more by capitalizing some letters and adding some numbers, say, the year he broke the record for the gold.

MPitgs,e!08

Feel free to liberally salt it with non-alphanumeric character replacements for greater difficulty. For example, replacing “s” with a “$”, leaving us with:

MPitg$,e!08

This is a unique and strong password, and it is easy to remember.

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