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Passphrases: Easy to make, hard to guess

Thursday, May 23, 2013
courtesy of securingthehuman.org  

Use strong passwords, preferably passphrases made of multiple words, and be sure to use them securely.Passwords are one of the primary ways we prove who we are. It is how we access email, bank online, purchase goods and access devices such as a laptop or smartphone. If someone has your password, they can steal your identity, transfer your money or access all of your personal information.

Cyber criminals have developed sophisticated programs that can guess, or “brute force,” passwords, and they are constantly getting better at it. To keep them at bay, make sure to use a strong password.

The best way to create a strong password is to use a long password, and the more characters you have, the better. In fact, instead of using a single word, use multiple words -- or even a complete sentence. This type of password is called a passphrase, and it is one of the strongest you can use. Here is an example:

Time for my coffee

That is it. That is all you need. 

If required, you can make your passphrase even stronger by adding symbols, capital letters or numbers, such as those you see in the example below. This is especially important if you are using a website that does not allow multiple words or a complete sentence for your password:

Time f0r my coffee!

This version has a capital letter, replaces an "o" with a zero, and ends with a punctuation mark. These traits make the phrase much more secure.

Related Links

Passwords - May 2013 issue of OUCH!