As you know, we are all about creating – and maintaining – secure networks and environments. This can be challenging particularly when it comes to passwords. We know we need them, but all too often users choose convenience over safety, using passwords that are easy to guess, saving them in a Word document on their computer, or writing them on a Post-It Note in their desk drawer.
Changing human behavior is not easy, but I have a suggestion for you to consider: use a “passphrase” rather than a password. What is the difference? It is all in how they are developed. A password is typically a word or two, often with letters exchanged with numbers or characters to create (often perceived) complexity. A passphrase is a sentence or statement made of four to 10 words that means something to you, making it easier for you to remember and harder for hackers to guess.
So how do you create a good passphrase? Here are a few tips:
- Pick something unique to you: Do you have a fond, but weird, memory from college? (stealingstreetsignsisnotsmart) Or do you have an inside joke that only you and your siblings know? (nevertellmomaboutthecat) Or do you have a favorite book quote? (you’remadbonkerscompletelyoffyourhead) Find something that has meaning to you but would likely not to anyone else.
- Avoid common phrases: Remember, this is something that should be unique to you, so don’t use things found in common vernacular like “betterlatethannever” or “makealongstoryshort.”
- Use uncommon words: Not to overly complicate this, but if you can use “cerulean” rather than “blue,” “uncouth” rather than “rude,” or “pooch” rather than “dog,” all the better. Keep it to something you can easily remember and spell though.
- Add one character or number: Rather than peppering your passphrase with special characters and numbers, add in one somewhere to further complicate your passphrase. Consider $ for money, ^ for carrot or even use & in one spot and spell in later.
The beauty of this is that as long as your passphrase is truly unique, you can wait much longer before changing it too.