Password Security

How often have you been asked for a password? Most people are prompt at least once a day. If you use a computer, you are probably aware that passwords, like passcodes, keep your data slightly safer. It is like an ATM code. Most people keep their passwords simple to remember and as a side effect, easy to hack.

I have had bad passwords in the past too, but I have corrected them overtime. There are still a few bad password habits I still have, but there are many less problems than before.

I am going to try and guess your password.

Anything not in square brackets, [these are square brackets] should be taken literally, but the case (i.e. capital) might be different.

  • password
  • [4 spaces]
  • [No Password]
  • [A name]
  • [A name with a number before or after the word]
  • [Something (a word, phrase, etc.) with a #1 after it]
  • [The year]
  • [Part of a name (pet, person, etc.)]
  • [A date]
  • [A word]
  • 12345
  • [Social Security Number]
  • [A number pattern]

If your password falls into any of these categories, there is help for you.

Good Passwords May Have:

  • 8 or more characters
  • Symbols, letters, numbers
  • Different cases (upper and lower)
  • No Repeating Pattern

If you want a good password, it is a random string like “(7!290IUHfwqe8” right? WRONG!!

You can make a good password by taking common strings and making them more difficult. Here is a real example.

Example:
Pass: lisa23

  • Replace some characters –> lisa23 to l!sa23
  • Change cases, but not the first character because that is obvious –> l!sa23 to l!sA23
  • Replace numbers that look like letters –> l!sA23 to l!sA2e (E is like a backwards 3 and to make it more of a challenge, make the “E” lowercase)

That is a pretty strong password, but it would be stronger if it was 8+ characters.

Some tips for password safety.

  • Don’t type passwords if you think you have a virus or a keylogger (stores information you type)
  • Use the same password for many places (better if there are no same passwords, but 2 is okay)
  • Generate random passwords and use a mnemonic device to memorize them (a rhyme, song, etc.)

If you need a good password generator go to:
http://www.pctools.com/guides/password/

If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask.
Email [email protected] if you have any questions, comments, and/or concerns.

Credits: I was inspired by the One Man’s Blog post titled How I’d Hack Your Weak Passwords. I recommend you read it. It was very well written and I thought I would expand on it and write my own security post for ZPU Systems™ and help the readers secure their passwords.

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Zach Bornheimer (46 Posts)

Zach Bornheimer is a musician and professional geek from South Florida currently attending the University of South Florida and is pursuing a degree in Music with a concentration in Jazz Composition. Find out more: http://zachbornheimer.com.


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