Choosing a Password

Written by Super User on . Posted in Uncategorised

Passwords are used to log into computer systems and verify that you are the person that you say you are.  Because so much information about you and the systems that you access are kept online, it is important that you choose a good password that is not easily guessed by other people.

Tips on Safeguarding your Passwords:

1.  Never give your password to anyone else.  Do not share your password with other people whom you do not know or trust.  The best practice is to not give your password to anyone at all.

2.  Make your password something you can remember.  Do not write the password down, but make sure you can remember what it is.

3.  Make your password difficult for others to guess.  Choosing a good password with the tips below will help you with this.

4.  Do not change your password because of spam emails saying you have to.  Administrators do not need you to change your password or ever verify your password. Beware of emails claiming that someone needs your password as this is purely SPAM and you will end up with your account hacked.

 

How to choose a Good Password:

Do not use words or phrases that have personal significance.  You should also avoid any of the following:

  • Your name
  • Your spouse's name
  • Your parent's name
  • Your pet's name
  • Your child's name
  • Names of close friends or coworkers
  • Names of your favorite fantasy characters
  • Your boss's name
  • Anybody's name
  • The name of the operating system you're using
  • The hostname of your computer
  • Your phone number
  • Your license plate number
  • Any part of your social security number
  • Anybody's birth date
  • Other information that is easily obtained about you
  • Words such as wizard, guru, gandalf, and so on.
  • Any username on the computer in any form (as is, capitalized, etc.)
  • A word in the English dictionary
  • A word in a foreign dictionary
  • A place
  • A proper noun
  • Passwords of all the same letter
  • Simple patterns on the keyboard, like qwerty
  • Any of the above spelled backwards
  • Any of the above followed or prepended by a single digit

 

Mix letters, numbers and symbols, and use case sensitivity (upper and lower case letters). This mixture is known as "pseudo-random alpha-numeric combination"; using this, it is almost impossible to "crack" somebody's password. (i.e. instead of "password," try "pAsS34%(6*2woRd," etc.)

Find a good way to remember. A good way to do this is to choose the first letters of a sentence that you will remember. e.g. "I have 2 dogs called Rover and Fido" gives: Ih2dcRaF

Use punctuation to your advantage. To incorporate a colon into the previous example, remember the sentence as "I have 2 dogs: Rover and Fido", which would give: Ih2d:RaF

 

Try to memorize the password, and avoid writing it down. Somebody could very easily find the slip of paper that the password is written on.

 

The longer the better. Don't make a password that's less than 6 characters. Anything less can be cracked from brute force software.

 

Take the street you grew up on, and your first pet/something hard to guess from your past, put a number sign in between, substitute some letters for numbers, and, voila! A great password. For example: Bill grew up on Ocean Avenue, and his first pet was Rocky. His password would be: 0c3an#r0cky You can add random capitals to make it more secure.

 

Another way is using just numbers, but with an algorithm. You could take your birthday, for instance. For a random birthday, let's use 23/4/87. 2+3+4+8+7=24. 2+4=6. And so your password is simple. now, take 6 and.... 2x2x2=8 4x2x2=16. 1+6=7. 7x7=49. 49x49=2401. This way, you have a password,(2401) and a way to crack it if you forget it!

Change your passwords. You should change your password at least every 30 to 60 days. You should also not re-use a password for at least a year.

One other way is to use a word, for example, wikihow, and move your fingers up one row on the keyboard. Wikihow becomes 28i8y92.

One more way is to create a random syntax (eg. 2 numbers, 5 letters, 1 punctuation mark and 2 more numbers) and randomly populate it with the characters you have said - 94IdmTg;66 could be a password created in this way. The downside of this method is that it is often difficult for most people to memorize passwords created in this way, but if you use it often enough it should become easier over time. This method is only really useful if you believe other people may overhear/attempt to find out your password, as computers will not find such a password any harder to crack than a password holding some meaning!