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4 tips for making a hard-to-crack password

22 November 2016 Jason Landry
4 tips for making a hard-to-crack password

Ensuring you have a secure password to protect your business activities may seem difficult, with suggestions usually involving random combinations of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols. However, there’s an easier way.

Even the most secure application or network is unprotected against a weak or reused password. Despite this, 21 per cent of people use passwords that are more than a decade old and 54 per cent of people use five or fewer passwords over their entire life.

To keep our networks secure, and to prevent hackers getting their hands on valuable data, good password habits are crucial.

Most people need an excellent memory to manage passwords today. Electronic devices and websites have password and security rules that make it difficult not only for other people to guess your password, but also for you to remember it.

Many people write their passwords down, use a password manager or, when all else fails, click the ‘forgot password’ link. 

All of this creates password friction and security risks, and wastes time when accessing accounts.

Good password habits are not difficult to adopt and creating strong passwords is something everyone can do.

To create strong passwords that are easier to remember, use random phrases rather than strings containing symbols, characters, numbers and letters.

Four good password habits to keep your information safe are:

1. Don’t be scared to use spaces
Most sites will allow spaces and this makes it much easier to create long, easy to remember passwords, like ‘This is the best article written on passwords’, which would take an estimated 1,100 years to crack (at 1,000 guesses per second).

2. Build your password phrase from a proper noun
Because passwords for most websites require a capital letter, choose a proper noun you can remember, such as the name of a pet, and then add a couple of memorable words that describe their looks, habits or personality.

For example, the password ‘Milo scratch furry’ would take hackers an estimated 266.8 trillion years to crack.

3. Add $1 to the end of your password phrase
To ensure you have a numeral and a character in your random keyword phrase, a simple trick is to add $1 to the end of your phrase.

‘Milo scratch furry $1’ would take hackers an estimated 43,052 quadrillion years to crack.

4. Add the website’s name to your password phrase
This advice may sound counter-intuitive, but it lets people give each online account a unique password. For example, ‘Milo Facebook scratch furry $1’ would take hackers an estimated 39.37 decillion years to crack.

If your password is now excessively long, simply remove one of the words. With the password ‘Milo Facebook furry $1’, hackers would still require an estimated 20.57 sextillion years to access your account.

Using strong passwords is a crucial counter-measure to prevent hackers accessing valuable data.

By adopting good password habits, we can make our networks, devices and reputations safer.

4 tips for making a hard-to-crack password
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Jason Landry is a senior product marketing manager at Ixia.

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