The Holy Grail of Passwords

There is no question that passwords are part of our daily internet routine, from Facebook, Gmail to our banking site. We know that you don’t openly share your passwords to anyone that you don’t tr...
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The Holy Grail of Passwords

by News Editor on October 7th, 2015 in Security Tips.

There is no question that passwords are part of our daily internet routine, from Facebook, Gmail to our banking site. We know that you don’t openly share your passwords to anyone that you don’t trust, but unfortunately the task of keeping your passwords private is daunting; worst of all it doesn’t take much to be compromised.

Don’t panic we're here to help! Here's a list of things you can do to stay protected.

Start with strong passwords

The majority of people use very weak passwords and reuse the exact same ones on different websites. So the question becomes how are we supposed to use strong, unique passwords on all the websites we use?

The anatomy of an unbreakable password is... (Just because they’re “traditional”, it doesn’t mean that they don’t work!)

•    Make sure it has 12 Characters: You need to choose a password that’s long enough. There’s no minimum password length everyone agrees on, but you should generally go for passwords that are a minimum of 12 to 14 characters in length. A longer password would be even better.

•    Includes Numbers, Symbols, Capital Letters, and Lower-Case Letters: Use a mix of different types of characters to make the password harder to crack.

•    Doesn't use Dictionary Word or Combination of Dictionary Words: Stay away from obvious dictionary words and combinations of dictionary words. Any word on its own is bad. Any combination of a few words, especially if they’re obvious, is also bad. For example, “office” is a terrible password. “green office” is also a very bad idea.

•    Doesn’t Rely on Obvious Substitutions: Don’t use common substitutions, either — for example, “H0use” isn’t strong just because you’ve replaced an o with a 0. That’s just obvious.

•    Try mixing it up — for example, “BigHouse$123″ fits many of the requirements here. It’s 12 characters and includes upper-case letters, lower-case letters, a symbol, and some numbers. But it’s fairly obvious — it’s a dictionary phrase where each word is capitalized properly. There’s only a single symbol, all the numbers are at the end, and they’re in an easy order to guess.

Test how strong your password is. If you want to see how secure your password is, you can do that by finding out how long it would take a hacker to figure it out.

Consider Password Managers

We have already covered strong passwords, but most of us simply don’t have the mental faculties to remember more than one or two really difficult ones. That’s when a password manager can come in.

Companies like LassPass and PasswordBox make it easy to store all your logins in one encrypted vault, which itself has a password you can protect with two-factor authentication. These want to make your online life easier by only making you remember the single password you need to access all your other ones. Best thing about it is that they're FREE!

There is some debate over whether it is wise to store all your information in one place since it creates a potential single point of failure, but the advantage is that you can choose as complicated a password as you want on any website you visit, and your password manager will remember it for you. These password managers even audit your passwords, let you know when you’ve re-used the same password and how long it’s been since you’ve changed them up.

Consider Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA), also known as multi-factor authentication, may sound intimidating but it’s a fairly straightforward idea. It adds a second level of authentication to an account log-in. Instead of just relying on a username and password, a website may send you a text message (or you can download apps specifically designed to generate safe login codes to act as a second layer of security.

Two-factor authentication isn’t universal yet but most major web services do offer it, including:

•    Google/Gmail
•    Microsoft/Hotmail
•    Facebook
•    Twitter
•    LinkedIn
•    Dropbox
•    PayPal

Password generators

If you’re not sure how to create a secure password, don’t fret yet! Of course there’s help for you. Password generators can help you create highly secure passwords that are difficult to crack or guess. Just make sure to select the criteria for the passwords you need. Remember, the more options you choose, the more secure the passwords will be.

Try these simple, easy to follow password generators from Lasspass, SafePasswd and New Password Generator.

The Bruce Schneier's Method

Security expert Bruce Schneier put forth a password method back in 2008 that he still recommends today. His theory is – “Take a sentence and turn it into a password”.

The sentence can be anything personal and memorable for you. Take the words from the sentence, then abbreviate and combine them in unique ways to form a password.

Here are some examples:

•   IcantwaitFTScupPL! = I can’t wait for the Stanley Cup playoffs!
•   WMup@600amtmrW = Wake Molly up at 6.00 am tomorrow
•   MyOff@125DorS704eNY = My office address is 125 Dorchester, Suite 704E, New York

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