About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

July 27, 2010

Secure P@55w0rdz

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , — Ron @ 4:38 am

I received many questions after last week’s column about being hacked regarding passwords.  Some were about how to create good passwords and others like, “How do I remember my 194 accounts’ passwords?”

First, when creating passwords avoid the obvious.  Currently some of the top passwords in use in the US are qwerty, asdfgh, 12345678, your first, middle, or last names, names of pets, kids, parents, or significant other, birth dates, months, year of birth, street name and/or number, your car’s license plate, a difficult word from the dictionary, like ambrosia and the most obvious, “password”.  Are you using any of those?

Always use a combination of letters, numbers, upper-case and lower-case, and make sure the letters don’t spell anything … even backwards.  Something like “rQ7tXc5#T” would be good, but remember — you have to remember it.

Always use at least eight-characters in a password.  The odds of breaking one with eight characters are one chance in 2,821,109,907,456.  Hackers have tools which can hack any six-character password in less than 15 minutes, so always shoot for eight which could take years to unravel.   The first thing that it will do is run through every word in the dictionary, which only takes the first couple of minutes.  These apps also run the words backwards. That is the reasoning behind NOT using any word from a dictionary.

Make a cryptic password from a song, slogan, or quote with a date.  Use a slogan like, “Don’t leave home without it”.  Take the first letter from each word and blend in your year of birth.  You come up with something like “D1l9h6w8i!” and you have a fairly easy to remember but “un-interpretable” password.  Notice the use of different cases, numbers and symbols.  Also, notice the title to this column.  Use various symbols for letters.  You can use “@” for “a”, “3” for “e”, the lower case “L” for the number one, etc.  Be creative, you are the only one who has to understand your secret code!

Don’t give your password to anyone!  If you check with your work IT or HR department you will find that many corporations have an immediate dismissal policy for sharing.

Last, but by no means least, watch out for people who are exceptionally skilled in reading keyboards…upside-down.  I have a coworker who has a doctorate in upside-down keyboard translation.

Now I will explain my amazing ability for remembering many, many usernames and passwords.  KeePass is a handy free program that will hold all of your usernames and passwords and protect them all with one password.  Just make sure if you use KeePass or one of the many other Password Storage apps that you use a super-duper password to secure that application.  I prefer KeePass since I have a Blackberry phone and the program has a Blackberry app that hooks the computer and phone together.  That way I have my usernames and passwords with me all the time.

1 Comment »

  1. […] for the emails I received regarding the last column about “Secure P@55w0rdz“.  Most of you commented on the spelling I used in that word.  That is somewhat standard […]

    Pingback by Email Apps » — August 10, 2010 @ 4:17 am

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