by Richard Stokes

Every other day it seems like there’s some new story about a website getting cracked, a person’s identity getting stolen or a public figure’s email account getting compromised and their electronic correspondence getting released.

Most people still think it will never happen to them but as their connections to the cyber world continue to multiply – with sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon – so do the chances that they’ll eventually get hacked at one site or another.

So, what should you do?  It may seem like a daunting task because it takes some effort (on your part) and some discipline and if you’re like me you’re thinking, Do I really have time for this and if I start changing my passwords to something harder I’m only going to forget them?

That’s why for this week’s tip I thought I’d write about how to come up with a stronger password and one that you will be able to remember.

The first part to this is to come up with a pass phrase as oppose to a password.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a pass phrase.

The only problem with this example is that this is a very well-known phrase and it wouldn’t surprise me if somewhere a group isn’t already compiling a list of the top 10,000 pass phrases and how to crack them using techniques like the one I’m about to share.  Therefore, in order to avoid this, you need to come up with a pass phrase that is personal to you.  For example, here’s an off the wall movie quote, “Don’t look directly into the sun.”

Here’s what you do with it:

  1. Take the first 2 letters of this pass phrase:  “Don’t look directly into the sun” and that becomes your password – ‘dolodiinthsu’(A good start, easy to remember and certainly not a word that you would find in any dictionary)
  2. Take it a step further and capitalize every other 2 letters.  DOloDIinTHsu(I found this easy to do and remember on the keyboard because you’re simply alternating with the shift key for every other 2 letters.  This is also significantly harder to crack than the first iteration.)
  3. If you’re ambitious and want to take it a step further consider using a number to replace a specific letter.  Let’s say every time there is an ‘s’, substitute a ‘5’.  Now you have ‘DOloDIinTH5u’

This password is much harder to compromise and much easier to remember based on the starting pass phrase and the pattern you have established for yourself.

There’s no magic way to do this, just find something that works for you and remember: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  ANouOFprI5woTHaPOofCU (I still wouldn’t use that one though!)

Network 1 Consulting is a 14-year-old, IT Support company in Atlanta, GA.  We become – or augment – the IT department for professional services companies: law firms, medical practices and financial services firms.  Our IT experts can fix computers – but what our clients really value is the industry-specific best practices we bring to their firm.  This is especially important with technology, along with regulations and cyber threats, changing so rapidly.  We take a proactive approach to helping our clients use technology to gain and keep their competitive advantage.

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