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)

Tips

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

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15 comments for “How to Create a Secure Password

  1. July 7, 2010 at 7:03 pm

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

    And here’s an alternative method that works for us: http://safeandsavvy.f-secure.com/2010/03/15/how-to-create-and-remember-strong-passwords/

  2. July 8, 2010 at 4:21 am

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

  3. July 8, 2010 at 9:03 am

    I have to disagree with your “change your password every six months” suggestion. Details @ http://travelinlibrarian.info/2010/07/30-posts-in-30-days-8-passwords/

    • July 8, 2010 at 11:18 am

      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.

  4. MCLS
    July 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    RT @librarianbyday: How to Create a Secure Password http://librarianbyday.net/2010/07/how-to

  5. greggwinsor
    July 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    RT @librarianbyday: How to Create a Secure Password http://librarianbyday.net/2010/07/how-to

  6. mutabilis
    July 8, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    RT @librarianbyday: How to Create a Secure Password http://librarianbyday.net/2010/07/how-to

  7. StCharlesLib
    July 8, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    RT @librarianbyday: How to Create a Secure Password http://librarianbyday.net/2010/07/how-to

  8. FriendsOfTheRPL
    July 10, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    RT @librarianbyday: How to Create a Secure Password http://librarianbyday.net/2010/07/how-to

  9. March 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    You changed your clocks (&smoke detector batteries) this weekend, but did you remember to change your passwords? http://librarianbyday.net/2010/07/07/how

  10. June 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    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:

    TwentyTwo=44/2

    or

    area=PI*r^2

    • June 18, 2011 at 7:46 am

      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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