Two Minute Video: How to Create Strong Online Passwords

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Heard about any good hacks lately?

It’s high time we went over some password rules:

1. The longer the better. Six characters? No. Eight? Meh. Twelve? Yes.

2. Use a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols.

3. Create a different password for each site. It’s a total pain, I know, but consider one of the following methods:

Luigi Montanez’s “password recipe” for websites

– Take the number of letters in the site name, times the number of letters in the part after the dot. = 6 x 3, for instance.

– Choose a phrase you can remember—like “All’s well that ends well”—and grab the first letter of each word in that phrase: awtew.

– Take the site name, strip out the vowels, then capitalize: GGL.

– Use the number of letters after the dot again: 3.

Final password: 18awtewGGL3. would be: 15awtewYH2, for instance.


Incorporate cryptic language from a device you always have with you

As an example, use your cell phone’s serial number, then add a symbol like an exclamation point, then add the site’s name onto the end—capitalized but minus the vowels.

If I use the model number of my phone’s battery, for instance, which is easily found by removing the back plate, I get gb/t18287. So my Best Buy password would be gb/t18287!BSTBY—pretty strong, huh?

The best part is that since you change phones every so often, it’d force you to change your password as well. The bad part is that if someone gets ahold of one of these passwords, it’s not impossible to figure out the pattern. Also, don’t lose your phone.

Password management services

You can also use password management services like 1Password or LastPass. That may be the path of least resistance, although some of these services are susceptible to security issues themselves.

More Techland password tips:

Who ARE These People? Sony Hack Reveals ‘Seinfeld’ as Most Popular Password

Passwords: How To Stop Ignoring The Expert Advice

Why You Should Make Your Passwords Harder To Crack

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Interesting advice commonly given for the last 30 years. But what if you're using a system that doesn't accept symbols in passwords? What if the password system treats upper and lower case letters the same? What if you can only use numeric passwords? In computer security, techies often give complex solutions that don't match reality.

See the cartoon:

or look it up by googling "password cartoon xkcd" 


One tip which is not mentioned is to use an easily remembered phrase, such as a street address or company name, and substitute numbers and symbols for some of the characters. For example The White House could be Th3Wh!teH0u$e. It's very easy to remember, but relatively difficult to crack.