If you are an average internet user, chances are you might have already signed up for at least a dozen of online services like email, social media etc. Although most of the companies take a lot of security measures to prevent attack from hackers, they become helpless when things go further wrong.
A hacker who gets access to a company database can perform a brute-force attack to retrieve all the user’s passwords. If you haven’t heard of brute-force attack, it is a trial-and-error method in which attacker tries all the possible combinations to crack the data. You can make this process difficult or nearly impossible by using strong password. Here are a few tips to create a strong and secure password.
Basic characteristics of a strong password
- It should be at least 12 character long.
The computing power of computers is increasing day by day, that means your password is getting easier to crack. So use a password with atleast 12 characters in it. The more the letters in your password, the more strong is your password.
- It should not contain a complete word or combination of words.
Passwords like MadCat or RedRobot can be easily cracked with a dictionary-attack. In a dictionary attack, a hacker tries all the words and combination of words in the dictionary.
- It should contain uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and spaces.
Want to know the reason? A hacker needs to try 95 quadrillion (26^12) combinations to crack a 12-character password with lowercase letters only. At same time he needs to try 22 sextillion (73^12) combinations to crack a 12-character password with letters, numbers, symbols and spaces (assuming 10 symbols allowed). The latter is about 230000 times more than the former. Imagine cracking a password in one day, and cracking a password in 230000 days (630 years). That is really big difference!
- It should not contain personal information like your name, your company name, nick name etc.
It is very easy for someone who knows you to guess the password, if it contains personal information like name, friend’s name, lover’s name etc.
- It should not be used elsewhere
You should never use the same password for different services. If one account gets compromised, hackers can get access to all of your accounts with the same password.
Tips for creating a strong and easy-to-remember password
Here are a few tips you can consider for creating a hard-to-guess and easy-to-remember password
- Take a sentence and substitute letters with symbols & misspellings.
The sentence may be anything that you can remember. For example, ‘I like football’. Now you can substitute the letters in it with symbols. Thus you can change ‘I like football’ to ‘1 L!ke F0otb@ll‘. You can change ‘o’ to ‘0’ (zero), or ‘i’ to ‘1’ and so on. But remember that hackers are already smart enough to try these substitutions!
- Take a sentence which is easy to remember and create an acronym out of it.
Using this method can generate a much stronger password. Here is an example in which i took the first letters of all words to get the password.
I spent $100 for visiting Bangalore in december 2014 = Is$100fvBid14
- Use a password strength checking tool
Password strength checking tools can help you find the strength of your password. But you should not rely completely on it because those tools doesn’t consider many factors like your personal information. You can find a number of tools by searching for ‘password strength check’. Here is one nice tool to check password strength.
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