Would Your Passwords Pass Inspection?

Stronger passwords. No leg day required.

It seems that each day brings a different technological innovation or practice to comprehend, adopt, and allow to revolutionize our professional and personal lives. As wonderful as this is, SLICE Managed Solutions understands that it can be difficult to keep up with such rapid progress. In our new column, “Slice it Up with Alannah,” I, Alannah, break down the technological concepts you may have missed and offer tips that will take you from a novice to an expert in a matter of minutes. First topic: password creation and management! I hope that you come away from these posts informed, mildly amused, and inspired to check out the other ways SLICE can help you use technology to reach your full potential!

Would Your Passwords Pass Inspection?

Hey there, password123! How did we know your secret login for Facebook, Hotmail, and PayPal? We guessed! If we were unsavory, we would use our knowledge of your unimaginative password to gain entry to your money, pictures, correspondences, and other personal information with which we could easily assume your identity. Lucky for you, we have decided to use our knowledge for good, not evil, and turn this into a teachable moment.

What is a Password?

The dictionary defines a password as, “a secret word or phrase that a person must know before being given permission to enter a place.” From Julius Caesar to the owners of speakeasies, people have long relied on passwords to separate the trustworthy from the enemy. Today’s Internet passwords serve the same purpose. An effective password, often referred to as a “strong” password, grants yourself and perhaps a trusted few access to the information and assets in your online accounts at the exclusion of identity thieves and other undesirables. We have crafted a step-by-step guide for constructing passwords strong enough to stump even the savviest hacker.

How to Create a Strong Password:

       Step 1: Think Outside of the Box

“Nothing personal” may be one of the most commonly told white lies, but it is also a great rule to follow when thinking of a new password. The popularity of social media and the existence of websites, like White Pages, means that your and virtually everyone else’s personal information is available to the public. By “personal information,” we not only mean your birthday, kids’ names, and other obvious identifiers, but your profession, hobbies, and interests. Imagine that you love your pet turtle, Shelly Clarkson. Your Facebook page features pictures of you pushing Shelly in a baby stroller, Shelly dressed up for Halloween, etc… If someone wishes to hack into your email, all that they need is knowledge of your email address and a hunch that your password is something Shelly-related. A few guesses later and they have access to all of your emails. If you use the same password for other accounts, the hacker now has access to those too. Create a password that people would not typically associate with you. If remembering an impersonal password proves too difficult, create a secret code to convey a memorable message.

  • Step 2: Drag it Out

The consensus is that passwords should be at least eight characters long. In fact, many websites insist that they are. However, research shows that the belief that an eight-character password is a secure one is nothing more than a common misconception. A hacker may have to try 645 trillion combinations to crack an eight-character password, which seems like quite the undertaking until you consider that it could take that same hacker 3 quintillion tries to figure out a ten character code. Online security experts suggest going even longer. Some encourage the use of full sentences as passwords.

  • Step 3: Mix it Up

Further complicate things by adding on another couple of words, forming a string of nonsense words that are longer than most other peoples passwords and much much harder to break. CorrectHorseBatteryStaple is a great example of a long, hard to guess password that only requires you to remember 3 items that can have a high visual impact and are therefore even easier to remember. 

Another Slice of Advice

In three easy steps, you have created a complex, hacker proof, password! The real work is remembering it. Store a record of your password in a safe place. You may even want to set-up a unique catalogue system for extra security. For example, if you have just invented your Netflix password, you may write it on a Post-It labeled, “Urban Outfitters Account Log-In” and vice versa. If you dislike clutter, services like, LastPass, allow you to store passwords online. If you learn that a website you frequent has fallen victim to a security breach, change your password immediately. Finally, never use the same password twice. Even a slight character variation can make a world of difference in safeguarding your identity.

Thanks to SLICE, you now have the tools to close yet another avenue of hacker incursion. The next time someone guesses your password, make sure it is not their first guess!

We hope that you enjoyed the first installment of “Slice it Up with Alannah”! Keep reading to understand the technological world slice by slice!

 

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