Thursday, June 28, 2012

More on Pa$$w0rd$... get it.

You need some secure passwords.

You need something hard to guess, but easy to remember. (That's an oxymoron right there.)

You need to protect your accounts.

But how to do that easily?

Here are some tricks and ideas to use to generate passwords that get really strong really fast. Think of this as taking your passwords to the gym to bulk them up....minus the smelly towels.

  • Take an ordinary word, but start replacing letters with symbols. This trick involves makes you password tremendously more complex to crack, but just nominally harder to remember.

If your password is the word strength , you can toughen up that password by replacing letters with similar looking symbols.

  1. Change the s to a $
  2. Change the e to a 3 (because a capital E looks like a 3 in the mirror....also a reminder of the gym).
  3. And for emphasis on all your heavy lifting, drop an explanation point at the end !
Your really simple-to-crack password of 

strength (crackable in about 3.5 minutes)

just became the exponentially more difficult

$tr3ngth! (crackable in about 35 days...way more buff, right?)

Password cracking programs know these same tricks and will try commonly substituted characters. But even so, this simple change makes you a much less desirable target.

  • Use something easy for you to remember, but completely obscure to anyone else.
This trick is a sweet one, because you can "nerd out" on something you love, and justify it. Let's say you follow baseball. On the day you select a password, pick the batting average leader and make it into a password.

Here is the leader board for the day I wrote this blog entry. You might use a first initial, last name and batting average.

Your password is CRuiz.362 Finally, that statistic you store in your brain has a justifiable purpose. And when the time comes to change your password, just look up the new batting champ, and you likely will have a new name and number at your fingertips.

Or you select the division leader, and how many games back the last place team currently stands. Or use the name of the last major movie you saw, with the actors name, and the number of stars you would have given it. You get the idea. Just find something that sticks for you.

I use this one myself...not so much the batting or movie part, but I have a methodology of picking passwords that guarantees something unique on any given day based on my life events, and is still meaningful and easy to remember for me.
  • Treat passwords like your underwear: Change 'em often.
Enough said, right?

The trick to strong passwords is this: No password is infinitely secure. You will always be breakable, just like someone can always break into your house. No matter how strong your security system, someone who wants in will find a way in.

The goal here is to make yourself a harder target. Just like a pick-pocket will target the guy flashing his wallet and money around and skip over those harder to get, you can do something similar with a smartly-chosen password.

Now then....don't you feel stronger? And you haven't even touched a dumbbell...