Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Strong Passwords

I read or heard somewhere that the word password is the most common password. I believe pet's name, child's name, and birth dates are also high on the list. 

Most people feel that their passwords are safe and are quite casual about their passwords. "Who would want to break into my accounts, anyway?" Well, you'd be surprised at how many unscrupulous people are out there in the big wide world. It is always better to be safe than sorry. 

Some time ago I read about creating a formula for your passwords that make it nearly impossible to break. I am sorry, but I don't remember where I read this article.  (I will describe the principles for the formula further down in this post.)

My online friend, Andy Traub, recommended LastPass to me. It is a password management program/site and their slogan is "The Last Password You'll have to Remember". They also claim that they are a "password manager that makes web browsing easier and more secure". So far, I have no reason to doubt them. 

I've been using LastPass for over a year now and I really love it. I have one password to remember, which I created using a formula, and it keeps all my passwords secure, but easy to use. LastPass will even create randomly generated passwords for you, if you wish to use that service. There is a free version of LastPass as well as a Premium version. And, it is as secure as your main password, that is why you need a good strong main password.

To create a strong password you should use alpha, numeric, and special characters. You should have at least one uppercase letter. And, most importantly, you should not use the same password for everything. If you choose not to use LastPass it will be a challenge to remember all the different passwords. In order to help with my aging (and forgetful) mind, I have a formula I use for my passwords.

My passwords are created with one section that remains the same and one section that changes.  I created a password base, plus a password variant section. Mine, actually, has three sections: two static and one variable section.

Here is a formula to get your thought process going. Use any variation of this formula, or create your own.
  1. pick a favourite person, animal, or thing
  2. choose a special character
  3. think about the site you are creating the password for
  4. think of a favourite three number or letter combination
Sample Password:  owL!fBk678
  1. owL (Favourite animal with a randomly placed uppercase letter)
  2. ! (one special character)
  3. fBk (for Facebook site, with one uppercase letter)
  4. 678 (Favourite number combination)
Here is another Sample Password, using the same formula: owL!gMl678

As you see, only the site section changes. 
  • owL!fBk678 (Facebook)
  • owL!gMl678 (Gmail)
  • owL!tWr678 (Twitter)
Create your own pattern and it will be simple to have distinct passwords for all your online browsing, difficult to hack, and effortless for you to remember.

Before you try to hack into my accounts, the above passwords are only set as examples, and not my actual passwords.

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