Creating a Strong Password


What does a good password consist of?


This question was answered on September 14, 2006. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Your passwords are the keys you use to access personal information that you've stored on your computer and in your online accounts If criminals or other malicious users steal this information, they can use your name to open new credit card accounts, apply for a mortgage, or pose as you in online transactions In many cases you would not notice these attacks until it was too late Learn how to create a strong password below:

1 Think of a sentence that you can remember. This will be the basis of your strong password or pass phrase Use a memorable sentence, such as "My son Aiden is three years old."

2 Check if the computer or online system supports the pass phrase directly. If you can use a pass phrase (with spaces between characters) on your computer or online system, do so.

3 If the computer or online system does not support pass phrases, convert it to a password. Take the first letter of each word of the sentence that you've created to create a new, nonsensical word Using the example above, you'd get: "msaityo".

4 Add complexity by mixing uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers. It is valuable to use some letter swapping or misspellings as well For instance, in the pass phrase above, consider misspelling Aiden's name, or substituting the word "three" for the number 3 There are many possible substitutions, and the longer the sentence, the more complex your password can be Your pass phrase might become "My SoN Ayd3N is 3 yeeRs old." If the computer or online system will not support a pass phrase, use the same technique on the shorter password This might yield a password like "MsAy3yo".

5 Finally, substitute some special characters. You can use symbols that look like letters, combine words (remove spaces) and other ways to make the password more complex Using these tricks, we create a pass phrase of "MySoN 8N i$ 3 yeeR$ old" or a password (using the first letter of each word) "M$8ni3y0".

6 Test your new password with Password Checker. Password Checker is a non-recording feature on the Microsoft Web site that helps determine your password's strength as you type.

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Posted by Chad of Data Doctors on September 14, 2006