Choosing a good password

Choosing a good password is important to the security of your system.  People choose a password that is easy to remember, so that they will not forget it.  However, most of these “easy to remember” passwords are based on “easy to guess” information.  Things like phone numbers, pet names, and spouse’s name, are easy to guess by someone who knows the person.

The other highly vulnerable password, is one that is an actual, or dictionary, word.  This is a true word, and opens the door for what is called a “dictionary attack”, where a hacker attempts to gain access to a site, by using a list of true word, or dictionary words.  With Internet access, dictionary attacks are a common occurrence, where a computer program connects to a computer, and tries to gain access by brute force, by going through a list of dictionary words for the password.

A secure password will contain a combination of upper and lower case characters, numbers, and special characters like “@”, and “#’.  This makes guessing the password much harder, and blocks against a standard dictionary attack.

As for remembering such a password, there are some tricks that can make it easier.  Let’s take a very simple password like “freddie”.  If we change the case of a letter (I recommend a letter other than the first one, as that may be done in a dictionary attack), we get something like “freDDie”.  Better, but not great.  Now substitute a number for a letter, and get “fr3DDie”.  Then a special character, and you get “fr3DD!e”.  That is a much more secure password, and yet is still easy to remember.

To summarize:

  • Don’t use passwords that are based on personal information that can be easily accessed or guessed
  • Don’t use words that can be found in any dictionary of any language
  • Use both lowercase and capital letters
  • Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters
  • Use different passwords on different systems

After all, your system, and information, is only as secure as the weakest security link, and a weak password a sure way to invite the hackers into your system.

Leave a Reply