Tuesday Tip: How to Come Up With a Stronger Password

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!)

Richard Stokes: As the Director of Sales for Network 1, Richard identifies “future” clients that can benefit from the support of an experienced, outsourced IT team. He helps clients and prospects find technology solutions they need to achieve better productivity and efficiency so they can focus on making money and growing their businesses.

Network 1 designs, builds and supports the IT you need to run your business more securely, productively and successfully. Whether you want to outsource all of your IT needs to a reliable, responsive, service-oriented company, or need to supplement the work of your internal IT staff, we will carefully evaluate where you are now, discuss where you want to go and implement and support a plan to get you there with as little interruption as possible.

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