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Securing Passwords

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We have written before about passwords, and how important it is not to use common words and names. Many people then asked, well how DO you create a secure password you will remember.

What you have to remember is the rules are there to make life more difficult for someone trying to break your encrypted password. Typically they will throw your password into a program which check by encrypting common words and names and comparing them against the encrypted version, when it matches, they have your password.

If that fails the program then starts to check all combinations it can, it will very simply start with

a b c d e .... until it reaches X Y Z including numbers

The it starts again with

aa ab ac ad .... through to ZZ

These programs take a long time, and the more characters they have to check with each pass, the more time it takes, so they tend to only check a to z A to Z and 0 to 9 with maybe common characters like @ or & included.

For each extra character on the length of your password, and for each extra character they include to check, the time increases logarithmically, and very soon gets to a point where it will literally take several years to find your password.

So then, how do we make it hard for them? while still having a password which is easy to remember?

Some suggestions are :-

  1. Take the initials of a relative
    1.2. add an odd character like one of these # ^ * ~ } { (avoid the £ & or @ characters though)
    1.3 add their date of birth using a mix of numbers and words (you could use your own DOB if you want)

    Example, my relatives name is John Henry Newman and he was born on the 21/09/1963 so I would end up with.

    Easy to remember but very hard to crack. It has a good mix of numbers, letters and an odd character, and is 14 characters long. You could even write down a reminder such as John^DOB which would jog your memory nicely.
  2. Use car registration numbers, not your current car of course, but many people remember at least one car registration number from their past, perhaps your first car, or your parents car when you were a child.

    As before, add an odd character

    Add something else memorable, your DOB as in example one, or a relatives you will remember.
    You will end up with something like


    Again you can now write down some clues for yourself, First car ~ sons DOB for example.
  3. Do you remember the postcode from somewhere in your past? Maybe a pen pal or an old family home? Use the methods above again and generate something only you will remember and that will be long and complex. Example YO87AG^june1984 (the date might be when you moved in, or out or your penpals year of birth)
  4. How about a favourite holiday from your childhood? Blackpool~aug1973 would be easy to remember but long and hard to crack.
  5. For each website you are told, use a different password, with these methods however you have a simple way to create them, perhaps by using the initials of the website or something obvious to remind you of it. For our site you might use TC followed by any of the methods above.
  6. Finally, but more difficult, do one of the above then think of substituting letters for numbers or symbols, swap e for 3, a for @, L for !, o for the number 0 Etc. As long as you remember your rules you can remember your password: example Bl@ckp00l~aug1973

Using these methods, or one of your own devising, you can make life harder for the bad guys, and easier for yourself.

Hopefully these suggestions have given you some inspiration, a good password is worth giving some thought to. These are just suggestions as to possible methods to create a secure password, you may be inspired to create your own.

Finally, we have summarised this page in a single page PDF, this is free to all and you are allowed to copy it, and distribute it yourself, as long as you do not change it.

PDF : How to create secure passwords

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