Tips to Strong Passwords for Improved Privacy

LockMany people think the strongest passwords are those made of special/foreign characters such as É, &, * or ¿. A password looking like g&J2!3aQ must be pretty strong right? What about taking a dictionary word, and replacing letters with numbers, for example, 0r4ng3? Well, these two examples aren’t THAT strong.

For a human being without automated tools, the first one is kinda hard to break, and the second one is a bit easier. For a specialized bot though, it’s almost as easy as breaking 87654321. Many algorithms exist to help dishonest people break into your email, bank Web access, or social media accounts. I’m sure all of you will want to prevent that. Following are my personal advices for safer passwords (or pass phrases). Some are based on computer science facts, and others on real experiences from friends, and myself. They can’t be taken as the ultimate truth, but will help you achieve better safety for your multiple on-line accounts.

Don’t use the same password twice

Imagine you are on a public computer signing in to some irrelevant website, let’s say to leave a comment on a forum, and someone sees what you are typing: your email address (which is often used as username), and your password. He can now access your email account if it is protected by the same password. From there, he can do almost anything because he’ll be able to use the “retrieve your password” feature of all other websites you have an account on.

Prefer a long phrase to a complicated short password

As illustrated in this image, the longer the password, the better. More than that, you can choose it so it’s easier for you to remember. “I lost my favorite green shoe” (if it means something to you), is much easier to remember than uJ@ggC9K!.

Some miscellaneous tips for short passwords

If a site limits you to a short password (10 or 12 characters for example), here are some easy tips you can follow :

  • Don’t use dictionary words or people/place names, even with numbers at the beginning or end, this is the first thing password crackers will try
  • Same thing with replacing letters with “matching” numbers: m4st3r, those are broken easily
  • Find something easy to remember so you don’t have to write it down, for example : 1994 with “turtles” (the year you bought your favorite turtles): 1tURt99Les4
  • You might wanna use a more complex combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, and also numbers to make it hard to break for humans

Don’t change your password for no reason

If your account hasn’t been compromised, and if you don’t have a good reason to change your password, don’t change it. You risk forgetting it or maybe not choosing a password as strong as your first one. Remember, it hasn’t been cracked yet! 😉

Please, I’m sure some of you readers will have more tips, and maybe discredit mine, who knows. Feel free to leave your comments.

2 Comments

  1. Goodspeed

    XKCD explains it all : http://xkcd.com/936/

    • Matt

      Just like I said in my post, no?

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