How to Choose a Strong Password

A few weeks ago our main business site experienced unavailability for about 30-45 minutes. Any requests to the site would return “site unavailable” error messages. Upon investigation of the issue it was found that someone was using a malicious script to hack into the site and trying various methods to crack the site’s login credentials. Had it now been for us having a strong password in use we would probably have been still suffering from the effects of a successful site hacking attempt.

Using a strong password when interacting with the numerous sites online is not an option but a requirement. As technology is continuously moving towards the use of the Internet for many of our transactions, processes and interactions, we have to take the necessary steps to be sure that we keep our online information secure. With this in mind, here are a few tips that can help with creating a strong, secure password.

  • No Passwords Based on Personal Information
    It is strongly not recommended to have a password with any personal information associated. This would include information such as one’s name, address, birthday, age, social security number or telephone number.
  • No Dictionary Words
    Although using words found in the dictionary are easy to remember when selecting a password, it is much easier to crack by a hacker. If regular words are unavoidable, try instead to use syllables from regular words. Also, syllables from multiple words can be combined as well.
  • The Longer the Better
    A one character long password generates 26 possible passwords. Therefore having more characters in a password makes it more difficult to crack. With this in mind, it is recommended that a password be at least 6-8 characters. However, a password with 12 or 16 characters are the best.
  • Special Characters are Welcome
    The use of special characters such as @, #, ^, & or ! help for the creation of a complex password.
  • Use Letter/Number Substitutions
    Another option is to substitute a letter in a word being used for a password with a number. For example, the word “vacation” can be changed to “v4c4t10n”.
  • Change your Password Regularly
    Regular password changes are recommended every ninety (90) days especially based on the way hacking attempts are evolving. Changing a password every thirty (30) days or less may prove to be inefficient and lead to forgetting passwords and creating insecure passwords.
  • Keep your Password Secure
    It is best not to write down passwords or keep them close to your computer. Hence, selecting a password based on a pattern that is easy to remember is recommended.

Examples of Strong Passwords

  • H@rd2Cr@k!: Password is more than 8 characters, uses letter/character substitution, special characters and still is easy to remember by combining regular words
  • (L4cp4B?): Password is more than 8 characters, uses letter/number substitution, special characters and is based on using the first letters of the words in the sentence “Long And Complex Passwords Are Best”