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Apr 21 2012

Please Give Me Strength!

How many times have you set up an account on line and had to think of a password? Your bank needs one, your email needs one, your Facebook account needs one. Passwords are everywhere: your bicycle D-Lock (no relation) requires a four-digit password. How many of you reuse the same password across different services to avoid having to remember too many passwords? Of course you never write these down, SMS them to yourself, email them to yourself, write them down on a scrap piece of paper, or share them with a parrot, do you? I’ll blog about password storage another time, just think on in the meantime about how vulnerable your passwords are.

For now, though, I want to focus on how secure your password is by looking at password strength. Password strength is an indication of how easy your password is to hack. You’re probably thinking it’ll never happen to you. Can you be that sure? Really? There are people out there just waiting to get their hands on you account details, to steal your money, to send loads of spam email originating from your actual account, to post embarrassing status updates and pictures on your Facebook account, to lock you out of your account. By way of confirmation of how easy it is to hack a password, have a look at the site http://howsecureismypassword.net/ (I wouldn’t recommend typing your actual password in, just in case) The site also tells you many people choose particular words as passwords. Yes, I was surprised that particular word was among the 300 most common ones chosen as a password!

Back to the serious matter of securing your password, it is important that you choose a password that is strong. Some companies have a password policy — a topic of a future blog post — that forces you to choose a strong password. If your company does not have a policy, or the policy is not adequate, then you can strengthen your password by:

  • avoiding the use of words
  • using a mixture of upper case and lower case letters
  • using special characters and numbers
  • ensuring the length is at least 8 characters

We have come full circle, in that the more complicated your password is, the harder it will be to remember. Paddy can’t solve all your problems in one post 😉

The takeaway message from this blog is: don’t make it easy for the hackers — choose a strong password….Please!!

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