How to Create a Secure Password

When I talk about transliteracy I often use this stat

It would take a hacker 5.15 minutes to hack your 6 character all lower case password.  Add in numbers, symbols and capital letters and it goes up to 8.51 days

from a Lifehacker article, How I’d Hack Your Weak Passwords, as an example of import skills we aren’t being taught. Its simple its basic and so very important.  I see audience members quickly writing this down and often am asked for more information.  The time has come for a post.

A secure password should have:

  • a minimum of 8 characters
  • lower case
  • upper case
  • number(s)
  • symbol(s)


Randomly substitute symbols and numbers into your password.

  • Chattahoochee becomes Ch@tt@h00ch33

Use a phrase.

  • Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue in 1492 becomes C$tob1492

Have more than one password.

I’m not going to tell you to use a different one everywhere, but have several and use the really complex ones on your bank account or retirement fund and by really complex I mean more complex than my examples

Change your passwords every six months.

I recommend changing them when you change the batteries in your smoke detectors.

Do NOT use any of the following for a password

  1. Your partner, child or pet’s name, possibly followed by a 0 or 1 (because they’re always making you use a number, aren’t they?)
  2. The last 4 digits of your social security number.
  3. 123 or 1234 or 123456.
  4. “password”
  5. Your city, or college, football team name.
  6. Date of birth – yours, your partner’s or your child’s.
  7. “god”
  8. “letmein”
  9. “money”
  10. “love”

More Tips


  1. I love that stat. This is a fun tool to see how long it would take a hacker to crack you:

    And here’s an alternative method that works for us:


  2. Yeah, nice info!
    I’ve done that and it works since my account was broken up before.


  3. […] making the rounds about secure passwords. Then yesterday I saw my friend Bobbi Newman’s blog post How to Create a Secure Password. I didn’t necessarily want to give everyone “the talk” about password as part of my […]


  4. I have to disagree with your “change your password every six months” suggestion. Details @


  5. Michael you’re right I do cycle through the same passwords over and over at work because we have to change them every 90 days. But I do change my personal ones every 6 months to something new and complex. I think it depends on your level of knowledge of security and general “techiness”. I imagine other techies change theirs frequently too.


  6. RT @librarianbyday: How to Create a Secure Password


  7. greggwinsor · ·

    RT @librarianbyday: How to Create a Secure Password


  8. mutabilis · ·

    RT @librarianbyday: How to Create a Secure Password


  9. StCharlesLib · ·

    RT @librarianbyday: How to Create a Secure Password


  10. […] How to Create a Secure Password | Librarian by Day (tags: secure passwords) […]


  11. FriendsOfTheRPL · ·

    RT @librarianbyday: How to Create a Secure Password


  12. You changed your clocks (&smoke detector batteries) this weekend, but did you remember to change your passwords?


  13. […] by Day, “How to Create a Secure Password.” Last modified July 7, 2010. Accessed June 2, 2011. […]


  14. My fave tip for creating secure passwords is to use maths – it makes it really easy to create memorable combinations of numbers, letter and symbols, eg:





  15. I think I’d have to be better at math to use it, but I can see how it makes sense for someone who is ! :-)


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