How Secure Is Your Password?

Photo by Dan Nelson on Unsplash

Almost every application out there today requires a password. Almost everyone that’s at least thirteen years or older requires to have a password for everything not including students needing passwords for school based accounts. Adults need passwords for personal items such as online banking and social media, but they also need passwords for their work computer and work accounts. Passwords are super important in all of our lives and yet, most people do not put much thought into creating strong and secure passwords. Let’s dig a little deeper into some common practices with password management today and then talk about some minor improvements that can have significant security enhancements.

If you google a secure password, most places will recommend that you have an eight character password that has a number, a mix of upper and lower case characters, and if you want to be extra secure, throw in a special character. But be careful of the special character, because not all websites can support some special characters. While this eight character password might work for many websites, it’s oftentimes not very secure. Most people pick words that can be found in the dictionary, making their password basically useless. Other ways to combat this issue is to create a password that is made of random characters with the combination of numbers, special characters and alphabet characters. This type of password is more secure when compared to the previous example, but how do you memorize such a password? Most people just write it down somewhere next to their computer. Again, if you are going to do this, you might as well not have a password at all. So, what does a safe and easy to remember password look like? Let’s talk about passphrases next.

A much better password is something that is long, easy to remember, and much harder to crack. Enter the passphrase password. A passphrase password is not an eight character password, it’s a 12–20 character password. For each character you go beyond eight characters, passwords become harder and harder to crack. There’s a lot of software out there that can crack an eight character password in seconds. A passphrase password would take decades, if not more to crack. Passphrase passwords are usually easier to remember. Your password can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be a random set of eight characters, thus making it easier to remember. And when a password can easily be remembered, it means that you don’t have to write it down. A password, no matter how safe it is, is completely useless if one of two things happen. If you write it down, and someone gains access to it, the second way that a secure password becomes useless is if the website where you used that password becomes compromised. At that point, every website that you use that password in becomes useless and you should change your password immediately.

Finally, if you have not changed your password recently, please go and do so now. Most passwords have been compromised in recent years with all the websites that have been cracked. If you are not changing your password every six months, then you should probably get in the habit of routinely changing your passwords.

I’m an engineer working professionally in San Diego, CA. I’m trying to improve every day and use this space to document. Connect: