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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

How to Use Strong and Secure Passwords

In all probability, most of us would be aware that using obvious or guessable passwords such as “password” or your pet's name isn't a good idea at all.
But then what options do you really have to come up with a strong and secure password?
First things first, you should have a different, fairly long and very strong password for each account. It's tempting to use the same password for all of your online accounts, but doing so puts every account in jeopardy if one of them gets hacked.

To break into accounts, hackers often employ a method called “dictionary attack”, which involves using words straight from the dictionary to guess the passwords. So it is strongly recommended that you don't use standard words as your passwords; rather try creating meaningless words from a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. And don't just replace letters in a word with a simple (e.g. 'A' with the @ symbol) because that's a very common trick. The password can be strengthened by using a blend of lower and uppercase letters.
The password should be quite complicated. But still, try and use something which you would be able to remember. Come up with something which incorporates various alphanumeric characters. Ideally, it should be a mnemonic sort of thing which you can instantly memorise. But if you see that this is not happening then spend some time in memorizing that password.
Now remembering more than one passwords can be a daunting task. This is where a password manager comes into the picture. KeePass is a fairly good, free password-management tool that runs on Windows and Mac OS X. It stores all the passwords in one encrypted database which can be accessed by a single master password.
Then there's a multi-platform password manager called LastPass which comes with the capability of auto-syncing different computers and browsers, thereby, giving you the access to your encrypted database from any device. However, the catch here is that you sacrifice the security of keeping your password list combined to a single drive.
These password managers are great but not 100% safe. The best password is the one you generate yourself, which is highly complicated with a mix of upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers. The trick lies in picking up a short phrase or a long word and get creative with it.


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