Creating Secure Passwords
With the coming of the digital age, passwords have become the single most important way of verifying one’s system identity (i.e. whether one is an authenticated user) and providing users with secure rights to their accounts.
If someone is able to guess your password, he can effectively assume your electronic identity and gain complete access to your files, emails and personal information associated with that account. The intruder can then choose to modify/destroy files at will, subscribe for services, using your personal information, for which you’d be forced to pay for, or send threats / prank messages from your account. Hence it is wise to generate a password that cannot be recognized easily by others, in order to keep your identity preserved at all times.
One must understand that no password is 100% secure. A determined hacker can hack into any account given sufficient time, the right “dictionary” and “brute force” tools. (See How Hackers Work?)
‘So what makes a good password?” - A good password is one which is easily memorized yet is strong enough to discourage the hacker and make him give up his plan.
Step by step approach to creating a secure password:
1. Length of your password :
6 characters is OK, 10 characters is good, 15 characters is excellent.
This is so, especially in the case of Microsoft Windows because windows passwords are scrambled as “hashes” (encrypted into invisible characters) and stored in hidden windows system files. A good hacker is capable of accessing the hashed content and retrieving one's password from it. However passwords longer than 15 characters aren’t stored and hence can’t be cracked.
2. Start with a simple phrase that is meaningful and can be memorized :
3. Change a few letters to uppercase:
Lets change the o’s and y’s to uppercase. Our password becomes ilOvemYpianO
4. Now we change a few letters to numbers:
Let’s change the ‘i’ to 1s. Our password becomes 1lOvemYp1anO.
5. Now we introduce a few non alphanumeric characters:
Lets change the ‘v’ to ‘^’ and add ‘#'s on either side and ‘.'s between each word. Our password becomes #1.lO^e.mY.p1anO#. There you have it, a perfectly secure password.
6. Change your password every 4 weeks:
This is prescribed by many companies/institutions as a safety measure. It is also prescribed for home computers where private financial information is stored.