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Picking Strong Passwords

Our passwords are the front line of defense against cyber criminals, identity thieves, and pranksters. It's critical that everyone knows how to create a strong passwords.

Passwords

  • A strong password is at least 8 characters long.
  • Containing three of the following four character types lowercase letters (a,b,c,d,e,f...), uppercase letters (A,B,C,D,E,F...), numbers (1,2,3,4,5,6,7...) and symbols (!~@+#$%^&*).
  • Never based on a place or word found in any language dictionary.
  • Avoid keys close together on the keyboard such as 12345 or qwerty.

Following this formula these are examples of strong passwords:

Sq8ehedp
IBN719&@
tw826WLD

Passphrases

Passwords have many security drawbacks. For one they're extremely difficult to remember. As a result people tend to write these down or store them in unsafe text files. Second since the characters are all over the keyboard they're extremely difficult to type. The solution to this problem is to use a passphrase. A passphrase is at least 20 characters long made up of any character set. The length of a passphrase provides enough security that you don't have to use multiple character types.

Following this formula these are examples of strong passphrases:

my son loves baseball
travel by sea yearly
cookie eats my shoes

Password/phrase Managers

When managing a password or phrase a unique one should be used on each of your accounts. Most of us have dozens of passwords to remember and as a result break this important rule. Password/phrase managers are a necessity today for anyone responsible for more than a few accounts. These programs have one master password protecting all of your accounts. Some will even automatically fill in forms for you saving you some time.

Popular password managers:

  • KeePass - Free with support for Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile.
  • LastPass - Free basic version and $1 per month pro. Support for Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile.
  • 1Password - Support for Windows, Mac and Mobile. Free 30 day trial and $10-49 for full license. 
  • RoboForm - Free basic version $30 pro. Least complex interface. Windows only.