What is a good password?

Passwords are one of the most important factors for security. A week password can destroy all other security efforts of a website and makes it fairly easy to crack into an account. This article shows a couple of methods of creating good passwords and how to use different passwords for different accounts is doable in daily life.

What not to use as a password

The most commonly used passwords

Everybody knows it, yet the most commonly used passwords haven’t really changed over the last years. Here you can find a quick list of the 25 most popular passwords in 2015. If you use any of them, changing your password is very important, as these passwords would be the first criminals would use to break into your account

Names as passwords

Regardless of using first names, last names or combinations of the two, names are commonly used words, so it is likely that they would be quite on top of the lists of passwords that are tried for breaking into your account. It’s best to stay away from names or at least use them together with other words in a longer phrase

Short passwords

The shorter your password is, the more likely it is that criminals can figure it out. Think about it like buying a lottery ticket. If you only need to get 5 numbers right, it’s a lot more likely that you’ll win than if you need to get 7 numbers right. It’s the same with passwords (kind of) just that in your case the criminals try to buy the right ticket and you are the lottery company. You don’t want to give your money away, so make sure you use as many numbers and characters as possible.

Keyboard combinations

At number 15 in the most used passwords list from 2015 you find this: 1qaz2wsx. Now you would think that that password is ok (even if it is not), but how does it get to place 15th? Look at your keyboard and try to type the password, then you’ll know why. Just because a password looks ok doesn’t mean it is. If you think you’ve found a great way to make an easy password using your keyboard, it’s very likely that thousands of other people have discovered the same, so simply stay away from that.

Finding a good password

There are countless ways to find a good password, here we only show you a few ideas that might help. Bear in mind that we are only sharing our ideas here, no advice is given. Make sure you check out as many sources on password creation as possible to make up your own mind!

Be silly!

The first challenge is to find a nice phrase of 4-5 words you can remember easily – the longer the phrase the better. Now “remember easily” here is a problem, because if the phrase is too simple, chances are that a lot of people would use it. So be silly! Think of something really stupid you would never want anybody else to know (that also makes sure you don’t tell your password to anyone). We will keep it semi-stupid here as we want to somehow keep face, so let’s go with the phrase “my dolphin is green”.

Make some of the letters capital

Let’s go on and make some of the letters of the new password capital letters. Ideally, those letters are not the first ones. So let’s go with the 3rd letters of each word. The resulting password would then be: “my doLphin is grEen”

Introduce numbers

You can do this in various ways. For example, you could change dolphin to 7 dolphins. Or you could change all the e and o to 3 and 0. Whatever it is you can think of, do it. Our phrase would then look something like this: “my d0Lphin is grE3n”

Special characters

The more special characters you use the better. More and more people use them, but it’s still quite rare, so if you have a couple of special characters like $, %, &, @ or * in your passwords, chances are that it makes it a lot more difficult to crack. We will replace the blank spaces between the words with some characters and add one more number: “my5*d0Lphin-is^grE3n”

Different password for different platform

This is a tricky one. It is very hard to remember a different password for every website or online platform you use. A good start might be to have one part of the password that changes according to the platform. Bear in mind that this isn’t perfect but it’s better then using the same password everywhere. So what you can do for example is to use the URL of the website to add a part to the password. Facebook for example has 8 letters and ends with a k, so let’s add %8K to our example Facebook password. Twitter has 7 letters and ends with an r, so let’s add %7R. Come up with your own variations and patterns, the more difficult they are the better.

Final thoughts

No password is 100% secure. However, there are ways to make them more secure and more difficult to crack. Using a password like “my5*d0Lphin-is^grE3n” doesn’t guarantee that your account won’t be cracked, but it makes it less likely. You can look at it like a house. A password like “abc123” would be like a house with an open door, “my5*d0Lphin-is^grE3n” would be one with a locked door and good security measures. Criminals might still target your house, but they would have to work a lot harder to get in.

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About the Author

Wolfgang GeigerWolfgang Geiger is founder, director and lead developer of Wohok Solutions. Passionate about website development from an early age, Wolfgang has built websites for more than half of his life. He has degrees in both, Computing and Business Management and is fluent in German, English and Mandarin. In Hong Kong he enjoys the mix of East and West, the energy in the city and the fabulous local food.

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