10 Password Safety Tips
10 Password Safety Tips avatar

Do your passwords look like this: “#47R?R)(*l*8“?

PadlockIf not, it may be time to think about securing your accounts.

Password cracking computer programs can try to guess your password at a rate of over one hundred million passwords per second.  What!?  I’m not making this up (Source: Wikipedia – Password Cracking)!

These password cracking programs will keep trying until they gain access to your account, unless they are stopped by a firewall or security software.  Password cracking software is used by people who are trying to gain access to your accounts without your knowledge or permission (malicious hacking).  This act of systematically testing all possible username / password combinations until the correct one is found is also known as a brute-force attack.

Passwords to Avoid

Malicious hackers know the average computer user will select passwords such as:

  • Password
  • 123456
  • The name and/or the birthday of family members
  • Favorite sports teams
  • Qwerty

A blog post on the IT World site lists the Top 25 Worst Passwords as of January 2014.

There is a good reason people use these common passwords – it just makes life easier. However, it’s definitely worth investing some time managing your passwords.

10 Password Safety Tips

Don’t panic!  However, it is important to think critically when making decisions online.

A few tips that will increase your account safety:

  1. Use different passwords for each of your accounts.
    1. If your password is the same for all your accounts, one compromised account means all your accounts may be compromised.
  2. Change your passwords often.
  3. Store your list of passwords somewhere safe.
    1. Note:  A file on your computer, especially one called “Passwords”, is not safe.  Your desk drawer isn’t your best bet either.
  4. Have up to 12 characters per password.
  5. Mix in upper and lowercase characters, numbers and symbols.
  6. Use random characters, not real words.
  7. Harness the power of the Web to generate strong passwords.  There are many free password generators to choose from, but our favourite is the Norton Identity Safe Password Generator.  It allows you to select password length and complexity, it’s done over a secure SSL connection and you can generate up to 50 passwords at a time (so you can pick the ones you like best).
  8. Type in your password rather than having your browser remember it for you.
    1. Auto-fill is handy but not ideal if your computer is stolen, or someone uses your computer without permission.
  9. Keep your passwords private.
  10. If you need to email your password, send it from a separate account without other identifying information.

But I’m Not Spock!

If you can’t imagine remembering a different password for each of your accounts, when each password is 12 characters long, with numbers and symbols and no actual words – without writing it down – you’re not alone!

You may want to invest in online storage for your passwords.  PC Magazine recently reviewed some good online password storage tools.

The Future

There is some argument that the future of the Internet is based on addressing the weakest link – the vulnerability of individual user passwords.  There is some intense focus on finding a solution. 

In the article 10 Top Password Managers, Information Week identifies biometric recognition as the next step.  The next few years will be interesting.  In the meantime, we can all benefit from using strong passwords to protect our data.

If you would like more information about password protection or website security, please contact us at 705-927-2308 or by email at