About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

December 2, 2014

November 13, 2012

Passwords Should Be Difficult & Easy

I receive questions quite often about passwords. I have a quick, wise guy answer; make them really difficult but easy. OK, I left a couple of words out of that statement. It should have said “really difficult for someone else to guess but easy for you to remember.”

We need passwords for networks on our job, email, bank accounts, applications, shipping services, one for this program and another for that. Oh, and they all have different rules. Many of them change every 90 days, they are all on a different 90-day cycle, and you can only repeat a password every 35 years. And don’t forget all your shopping web sites .

Password-based attacks are steadily on the rise…think Identity Theft, so make yours hard to crack. One other tip before we get into the details. I know it is hard but I do not suggest you use the same password for everything. If you do and someone happens to get it, you have lost everything online. I’m just saying…

Avoid the obvious ones. Some of the top passwords in use in the US are “qwerty,” “asdfgh,” “zxcvbnm,” 12345678, password, pets, kids, parents, or significant other’s names, your birth date, month, or year of birth, your street name and/or number, your car’s license plate, an unusual word, like ambrosia, etc. Also, don’t spell any of these backwards. Look at your keyboard for a hint about those first three.

Did any of those examples give you a sinking feeling? Also, the most common “secret” place people store their password list is under their keyboard on a sticky note. Don’t!

passwordUse combinations of letters, upper-case and lower-case, numbers, symbols (if allowed) and make sure the letters don’t spell anything. Something like "P7#tXc59T!" could be good, but remember — you have to commit it to memory.  Consider substituting symbols for letters, say the “@” symbol for “a” or the letter “l” for the numeral “1”.

Always use at least eight-digits since the chances of cracking those are about 1 in 2,821,109,907,456. For example, hackers have tools which are able to hack any six-character password in 15 minutes or less.

I suggest using the first letters of the words to a favorite song, or a slogan, with maybe the year you first heard it, or were born mixed with a symbol. So a mix-up of, “Hamburger, all the way” and “2012” could become “2H0at1w2!” Then when you need to change it, use another song or slogan.

good passwordsIf you go online and Google for “Random password generator” you will find a bazillion of them. One I like is “” My only issue with those is they sometimes make them so hard you have to write them down somewhere close by and that is a no-no!

One last thought. If you want to know how difficult your password is go to Microsoft at “” and it will rate your password. There are other sites for checking them too, but I trust MS not to be recording it in the background somewhere…muhahahaha.

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