Learn About Password Security: Password Generators and More

Passwords are a type of authentication to gain access to a resource, typically in the form of a secret word or string of characters. They are used for a variety of purposes online, such as for banking logins, bill pay, shopping transactions and for business purposes. Passwords are the first line of defense that users have against hackers and other individuals who have ill intentions with personal information. If a hacker is able to crack your password, he or she can wreak havoc by using your information to set up credit card accounts, apply for a loan or even access your bank accounts. Hacking may occur through viruses, unsecured wireless networks or through a brute-force attack. Brute-force attacks are possibly the oldest form of hacking. This involves simply guessing the username and password. Some hackers employ automatic scripts, known as bots, to continually attempt to access a restricted computer. Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to create strong, memorable passwords. Use the following password security suggestions to create strong passwords and prevent security problems.

Password Security Do’s

  • Use a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Ensure that your password is at least eight characters long to make it more difficult to guess.
  • Make your passwords as random and meaningless as possible.
  • Change your passwords frequently and use different passwords for each account.
  • Always try to move around the keyboard when creating passwords (don’t use only letters in any given row).
  • Consider using a phrase instead of a word when creating a password.
  • Do use a password that you can easily remember so that you do not have to write it down.
  • Choose a password that you can type quickly to prevent someone from watching and stealing your password as you enter it.
  • Use a combination of numbers and punctuation marks randomly throughout your password, especially the following characters: ! @ # $ % * ( ) - + = , < >:: “ ‘ .
  • Change your password immediately if it has been compromised or disclosed to an unauthorized individual.

Password Security Don’ts

  • Avoid using numbers of names associated with you, such as nicknames or birthdates.
  • Do not use a derivative of your own name, a family member’s name or the name of a pet.
  • Never use a solitary word in any language as hackers have tools that can crack these types of passwords.
  • Prevent your password from becoming stolen by not clicking “yes” when prompted to save your password on any computer browser.
  • Do not write your passwords down on paper or save them to a file on your computer.
  • Never give your password out to anyone not associated with your account operations.
  • Do not reuse the same passwords that you have used in the previous nine months.
  • Avoid using the same three or more consecutive characters in a password.
  • Never enter passwords on a computer that you do not control, such as on a public network, unless the site is secured via https.
  • Do not enter a password into a web page that you accessed through an e-mail link as these can be linked with phishing scams.

Suggestions for Creating Strong Passwords

  • Use a variety of character classes, such as lowercase letters a to z, uppercase letters A to Z, numbers 0 to 9 and keyword symbols. The word “bango” is less secure than BanG0 which is less secure than B@^G0.
  • Use the first letter from each word in a phrase or from a line in a song. For example, “There are places I remember all my life” could become Tapiraml.
  • Separate words with numbers or symbols. For example, the password “Hershey bar” could become Hershey1^#(8bar.
  • Modify the password for each of your accounts. To prevent having to write down each different password, you could modify it based on where it will be used. For example redAv6 for Amazon.com. Red and V6 to describe your car and A for the first letter of the account.
  • Use keywords in your password related to a significant theme. For example, the birth of a child would become OnemorePush or a new car could be 5speed.

Additional Resources