We appeared in the February 2013 Albany Times Union Life@Work publication. The article by Brianna Snyder, “Password Protected: How to pick a secure, hard-to-crack password“, focuses on critical techniques that every one should deploy to protect their online accounts from unwelcomed intrusion. (The article is also at the TU site here.)
It was the first time (and we hope the last) we had been quoted about squirrels with tin cans on their heads. You’ll just have to read the article, or the tips below, to understand what I’m talking about.
Quick Online Password Tips
- Don’t use obvious ones like “password” or “1234″ or “iloveyou”. Or your birthday. Or your pet’s name. And the like.
- Don’t use short ones like “acbf”. Let’s do the math. A brute force password hack (essentially trying all patterns until finding a match) relies on performing attempts. As computers get faster, it’s easier for the bad guys to more quickly make attempts. If you are limited to lower case letters only, the chances that your password is “acbf” is 26x26x26x26. If I did my math right, there’s a 1 in 457,000 chance to find it. That’s pretty easy. Every time you add a new character, multiply by 26 again.
- Use upper and lower case, numbers and special characters. Just adding upper case, now it’s 52x52x52x52…. Use numbers. Now it’s 62x62x62x62. Use typographic characters. Now it’s about 70x70x70x70, or a 1 in 24 million chance. And if you make that 8 characters rather than 4, it’s a 1 in 576,480,100,000,000 chance of guessing. I’d rather play the lottery.
- Use a very long string of characters that you will remember, like “Isaw1squirrelwith1tincanonhisheadat9amthismorning”. (And no, my passwords do not contain any references to squirrels or tin cans. Or do they?)
- If you can’t use a long string, use a medium length string with random letters, numbers and characters.
- Change your passwords with some regularity.
- Don’t use the same password for every account.
- Use a reliable secure password manager that encrypts the data. There are many out there. Do your due diligence.