Your Password, Please

Your Password Please

Pick a password that not only consists of just upper- or lowercase characters, or only one capital ('seCret' is thus a bad password). It is preferable to use a non-alfanumeric character in the password (%,=,*, etc.). The use of control characters is possible, but not all control characters can be used, and it can give rise to problems with some networking protocols.

A few methods:

  • Concatenate two words that together consist of seven characters and that have no connection to eachother. Concatenate them with a punctuation mark in the middle and convert some characters to uppercase. Examples: 'Pit+idEa', 'plOVer#me'.
  • Use the first characters of the words of a certain (not too common) sentence. When we use the sentence 'My goldfish are called Justerini and Brooks!' as example, we would get the password 'MgacJaB!'. (Also in this case make sure you use an eight-character password with uppercase characters and/or punctuation marks.)
  • Alternately pick a consonant and one or two vowels resulting in a pronouncable (and therefore easy to remember) word. Examples: 'koDupaNy', 'eityPOop'.

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    • Choose a password that is at least six characters long. This should be long enough to discourage a brute-force attack. Currently, the maximum password length on many Unix systems is eight characters, but if you want to add a few more characters to make it easier to remember, go ahead. Just bear in mind that anything after the eighth character will be ignored (so ``abnormalbrain'' is the same as ``abnormal'').
    • In general, a good password will have a mix of lower- and upper-case characters, numbers, and punctuation marks, and should be at least 6 characters long. Unfortunately, passwords like this are often hard to remember and result in people writing them down. Do not write your passwords down!

    • The license plate rule: take a phrase and try to squeeze it into eight characters, as if you wanted to put it on a vanity license plate.
    • Some people like to pick several small words, separated by punctuation marks of some kind.
    • Put a punctuation mark in the middle of a word, e.g., ``vege%tarian''.
    • Use some unusual way of contracting a word. You don't have to use an apostrophe.

      One of my favorite passwords was ``kEp*-h&y'': ``kEp'' --> ``keep'', ``*-'' --> ``laser'' (like those signs that you see outside of physics labs), and ``h&y'' --> ``handy''; ``Keep your laser handy!''

    • You can use control characters. Just bear in mind that a lot of them have special meanings. If you use ^D, ^H or ^U, for example, you might not be able to log in again.
    • Think of an uncommon phrase, and take the first, second or last letter of each word. ``You can't always get what you want'' would yield ``ycagwyw''. Throw in a capital letter and a puntuation mark or a number or two, and you can end up with ``yCag5wyw''.
    • Deliberately misspelling one or more words can make your password harder to crack.
    • Use several of the techniques above.
    • Something that no one but you would ever think of. The best password is one that is totally random to anyone else except you. It is difficult to tell you how to come up with these, but people are able to do it. Use your imagination!

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    Keeping your passwords safe means keeping them a secret. Don't give them to friends and don't write them down and keep them at your desk or in an unprotected file on your computer. Your house could get broken into, or more likely your child may give a friend access to your computer or your desk and that friend may not have the best motives when it comes to your privacy.

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    RESOURCES:

  • What are guidelines for a good password?
  • Tips for Creating Good Passwords
    Use Google: "creating good passwords"