Get a Better Password

Despite the many advances in technology, the greatest security weakness remains the same: people.

Let’s look at one of the major gaps we create in our own security: passwords. We may think, after years of education from our IT departments, that our passwords are better than ever, but this is not so. One of the main reasons is that hackers have access to faster hardware and better techniques than they have ever had. As mentioned in a recent Ars Technica article,, cheaper graphics processors allow password-cracking programs to try BILLIONS of password combinations in a SECOND . What used to take years to do now takes months, weeks, or even days.

Hackers are also better informed about our habits (i.e.: our password-creating habits) than they used to be. Recent leaks of consumer information from major companies have given hackers huge datasets to mine, which have allowed them to figure out the patterns we tend to use when we create a password. They’ve added these patterns to the programs they use to crack passwords and now their systems are smarter than ever.

An article on Lifehacker goes into the details (how hackers do what they do so successfully, what sort of patterns we have that make it so easy for them to crack our passwords, etc.) but let’s take a quick look at their recommendations for creating stronger passwords: the key is to make them unique and completely unpredictable.

  1. Avoid predictable password formulas (e.g.: most of us use a name, place or common word as the “seed” of the password, capitalize the first letter, add a number or common symbol at the end).
  2. Use truly random passwords (use multiple unrelated words strung together or, better yet, a password generator and manager)
  3. Use a unique password for each site you access (probably the most important part of all, because if you use the same password across multiple sites or services, just cracking that one password will open up several sites to hackers).

There you have it: some easy-to-use but excellent advice on keeping your passwords secure and, thus, keeping yourself safe online. As always, please tell us what you think in the comments below!

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