Monday, 28 March 2011

Creating Good Passwords

The topic of good passwords applies to all areas of our lives, not just the area of our children and technology, so I'm going to focus on making sure that you as a grown up have good passwords first.

How many passwords/PINs do you have to remember?  More than you'd like I'm sure... The scary thing is that these passwords are sometimes a thin layer protecting us from nasty things like identity theft, so it's extremely important to get it right.

What is a good password?  Well, technically speaking it is a password that is complex enough that a password cracking algorithm would take too long to figure it out for it to be worthwhile trying.  Humanly speaking, a good password is one that isn't so complicated that we have to write it down... because that of course defeats the purpose of having a clever password. 

There are some simple guidelines and a few tricks I can offer to help.  I'm sure as you read my suggested 'tricks' you will think of some of your own, and that would be even better.

First some basic guidelines:
  • Avoid full words, particularly not names of children or pets!
  • Avoid dates or even partial dates unless it is for something that no-one would know about (like a first kiss or something!) but no birthdays or anniversarys (sorry, you'll have to find another way to remember your anniversary!)
  • Avoid phone numbers
  • If it's a numerical password/PIN, be a little more creative than 1234 or 1111!
  • Make it a little longer than minimum length if possible
Now, some 'tricks':
Try using a phrase and using the first letter of each word.  So "My dad always gave me chocolate milk for breakfast" would become "mdagmcmfb".  Make it a little stronger by capitalizing one or more letters, and even stronger by replacing words like 'for' with the number 4.  So now it is "mDagmcm4b".  Looking pretty random to anyone who might have glanced your way while you were typing it in...almost impossible for them to remember, and because it has no pattern, it is difficult for a password cracker to get it figured out either. 

One step further would be to add special characters...sometimes this will be even required, so you can simply punctuate your phrase and have "mDagmcm4b!" or you can get a little more creative with something like "My daughter likes to be the star of the show" becoming "Mdl2bt*ots" or "I have a number of great friends for life" turning into "Iha#ogf4l"

This will only work if the phrase means something to you so that you can remember it easily and 'say it in your head' while you type in the password.

Another little trick would be to use words where you can replace them partially with numbers or other characters.  B9=benign, 4get=forget etc.  We've all seen them on licence plates.... so I'm sure you'll have lots of ideas.

Here's a link I found with some more ideas

Well, that should get you started...another time we'll talk about what happens when you click 'save my password' or 'keep me logged in'

Leave me your thoughts or ideas!

1 comment:

  1. These are great tips, thanks for sharing!