Did you hear the one about the guy who got locked out of his bank account? You did? Oh ok, hope it wasn’t you. . . You see, bloggers are writing about password safety again since LinkedIn and a few other sites recently had their lists of usernames and passwords exposed. It boggles the mind that people out there are still using things like “password”, “letmein”, “12345” and others! But they’re out there!
Discussion among techs has turned to length of password and what constitutes a strong password. Some are saying you can have a strong password if you add Capital letters, Lower case letters, numbers and special characters. But if you’re like the clients I see every day, you’ll look at that last sentence, throw your hands in the air, and start keeping a password book in your top desk drawer right where you and everyone else can have access to it. Others are saying that if you have all the above kinds of digits, and then make the total string longer than 12 characters, that you’ll have a strong password. Those who feel deeply about safety will end up with a password something like, “D3ceM6@r2012” and hope they remember that it stood for December 2012, as a memory jog. Some are even advocating a password as long as 15 characters!
But of all the suggestions I’ve seen to date, one was presented that seemed so simple as to be downright foolish in light of the above attempts to confuse digital password crackers(software that breaks passwords by searching through 1000’s of combinations with a given character length). This idea is to come up with a sentence that has meaning for you, a slogan, a question, or even a motto, and use that as your password. Of course you’d be stripping out the spaces. But one truth does remain, the longer your password, the longer it takes to crack, and if you have a 15 character password that you remember, the chances of filling your top desk drawer with open account invitations finally disappears and your accounts online are just a little bit safer.