weak password woes

January 31st, 2010 by Kawika Heftel

Passwords are still too weak for the most part.Well, here we are in the 21st century – the second decade of the 21st century, even, and Internet security, specifically the problem of weak passwords, still plagues our society.  A new study, based on analysis of 32 million passwords, shows that the most popular password is – can you guess? – “123456″.  One in five users leaves a key under the virtual doormat with obvious passwords like “qwerty”, “password”, “iloveyou”, or “princess”!  (original story here).

Why is it that we can’t pick secure passwords?  It seems it’s just human nature.  A password that is secure is, by definition, hard to remember for a human.  Here are five tips that will help your passwords remain secure.

  1. Here’s a simple hint – if your password can be found in the dictionary (any language!), it’s not secure enough!  It’s easy to crack a password that’s listed in the dictionary – it’s routinely done in college computer science classes.
  2. Put letters and numbers in your password.  Try replacing some letters with numbers (i.e. 3 for “e”, 1 for “L”, etc) or symbols (@ for “a”).
  3. Mix up uppercase and lowercase letters in your password.
  4. Use more than one word in your password.  You could use a whole phrase, for example, or make it an acronym by using the first letter of each word in a phrase.
  5. Use symbols such as punctuation in your password.  Note: some websites won’t allow you to use anything but letters and numbers.  It’s dumb, but they do it.

Hopefully these tips will help you keep your password secure!

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