Using Secure Passwords

This morning, this article about a Facebook board member’s account being breached inspired me to touch on passwords again. I’ve talked about secure passwords in the past, but on a daily basis I am confronted by people that talk about not wanting to use a more secure password because it “would be hard to remember” but then they will complain when their Facebook or Twitter accounts are hacked.

To begin, lets rehash what makes a strong password.  A strong password has all the following:

  • Upper and lower case letters
  • At least one number
  • At least one special character (!,@,#,$,%,^,&*,(,), “,<,>)
  • Absolutely nothing to do with you or someone close to your.

That last one is kind of important.  You want to avoid things like names, birthdays, anniversaries, and so on.  Children and pets’ names are also a huge no-no.  The more random the password and the less it has to do with you as a person, the better it is.

To test your password’s strength, you can look at this Javascript Password Strength Meter.  This meter gives you a score and tells you how secure your password is.  If you have anything less than mediocre, you should probably reconsider your password and create a new one.  On the same page there are tips on creating a secure password and even a link to a password generating application (and browser plugin).

Using a secure password is extremely important in a world where we have several passwords for many different services.  If you need help remembering your passwords, you should look into something like LastPass or KeePass.  Both are a type of “password safe” in that you can store passwords for different sites and only have to remember a single password to the password safe application.  Both of them also have built in password generators that you can utilize to create secure passwords for each site that you use that might require a password.

So again, I urge you dear readers to start using more secure passwords (if you’re not already).  It can save you a lot of heartache in the end.

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