Password protection – The good, the bad and the ugly

Topic: How-to guides

Password Protection
In an increasingly more connected digital world, passwords are like the locks to your front door – they protect your online world. Traditionally the use of these was restricted to just bank accounts and emails. These days, the average UK email address has 118 accounts registered to it which also means 118 passwords to remember.
Your password is vital to keeping your personal data secured. So, how do you choose a password that will actually protect your digital world?

The bad

As would be expected, the most common passwords are the easiest to breach – qwerty, 123456, password and 111111 all appear on the list of 25 most common passwords and all, can be breached by a modern computer near instantly.

The ugly

You may have received previous advice that suggested to take a common phrase and replace letters with numbers and add punctuation, throwing in the occasional capital letter. An example would be pA5$W0rd. In reality using this would only take 9 hours to crack. As xkcd illustrate, this is hard for people to remember and easy for computers to hack.

The good

When it comes to passwords (for want of a better phrase) size does matter. The length of your password is more important than an incomprehensible string of letters, numbers and punctuation.
The best advice is to choose a phrase from song lyrics, a bad pun, a line from a Donald Trump speech – anything with an element of randomness to it.
You can also customise this to the account that the password relates to. Banking passwords become ‘if you invest your tuppence’ (approx 343 septillion years to crack) social media becomes ‘you’re so vain’ (approx 111 thousand years) and work becomes ‘working 9 to 5’ (two million years).
So the next time your application tells you that your password needs to be “Eight characters long including special characters” forget pA5$W0rd and go for “snow white and the seven dwarves” instead.
You will no longer need to remember which ‘S’ you replaced with ‘$’ and it will take a modern computer approximately 38 duodecillion years to crack (38,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 for those that were wondering).

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