6 Ways To Boost Your Password Strength Besides Throwing In A Bunch Of Random Characters And Numbers
Updated: May 20
Creating Strong Passwords
Every now and then, a new media platform arises and takes the world by storm. And in a moment of “I need to be part of the pioneer batch of users to become an influencer,” we use the same login credentials as our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
This haphazard manner of creating an account is merely a treat for vicious hackers out there. But all is not lost, if you follow these 6 foolproof and simple steps to creating a strong password.
1. Long passwords over complex ones
Step aside passwords, passphrases are the new thang. Lengthening passwords by incorporating multiple words and spaces will help increase the password entropy, a.k.a. the measurement of how unpredictable the password is. Take the example of a purely numerical pin passcode.
To find the total number of combination possibilities, we use a basic probability formula where we take 10—the total number of numerical keys on the keyboard—to the power of the number of digits in the pincode. A 4-digit pincode (10^4) would have 1000 possibilities, while an 8-digit pincode (10^8) would have 100000000 possibilities. And you can imagine how the numbers will only get bigger when accompanied with a mixture of the 26 lowercase and uppercase alphabets each, 33 special characters and, when possible, spaces.
2. Avoid including dictionary words or any form of your identity
Here’s a password taboo: never use dictionary words, phrases or abbreviations as it makes your passcodes highly susceptible to attacks. Most password-cracking tools are advanced and equipped with lists of dictionary words of various languages. If the use of such words are absolutely necessary, you should misspell it by adding, removing or rearranging characters. An example being to replace ‘butterfly’ with ‘butrfly’.
The only thing worse than that is incorporating personal details like your NRIC or birthday into your password. These information are easily obtainable by skilled hackers and the last thing you want is a 2-in-1 combo—a stolen identity and hacked account.
3. Don’t use running alphabets or numbers on the keyboard
We’ve been told to make our passwords ‘complex’ by introducing random numbers and characters. When creating new accounts, Apple users would get complicated password suggestions that resemble something from the Da Vinci Code. But for the fear of forgetting these strings of gibberish, we often go for consecutive number patterns like ‘12345’ or keyboard patterns like ‘qwerty’ or ‘asdfgh’. While the alphabets and numbers are randomised, they're just as easy to crack with advanced software that attempts various consecutive patterns of varying lengths, which beats the whole point of a “complex password”.
4. Never note or store passwords
A bad habit even tech professionals are guilty of is storing passwords on some form of document. This often happens when we have overly complex passwords that we aren’t able to memorise easily. An easy solution to this problem is to create long but simple ones instead. A passphrase like ‘I lve unicornz-4’ will be simple enough for you to remember while still promising a relatively high level of security.
5. Refrain from reusing passwords
This is yet another bad habit of many. Passwords are often reused across sites and platforms for ease of memory. But by doing so, we run the risk of having all our accounts hacked simultaneously. Having variations of that one ‘common’ passphrase that’s elementary enough for you to remember in your mental passphrase bank will do the trick. If ‘I lve unicornz-4’ has been used for say—your Instagram account, consider modifying it to ‘I lve koalaz-7’ for your Twitter account.
6. Revise passwords periodically
Most educational institutions have this implemented, where it’s mandatory for students to change the password to their student account at the start of every academic semester. The rationale behind this requirement is simply to make hack attacks as challenging and impossible of a feat. By keeping the passwords ever-changing, hackers will be unable to keep up, especially when your long passphrase requires years or even decades beyond your lifetime to infiltrate. A revision every six months would more than suffice.
Establishing Strong Passwords Besides Capitalising One Alphabet And Adding An Exclamation Point
With the rapidly developing tech and cyber scene, hacking might soon cross unimaginable boundaries. While cybersecurity is a collective responsibility, password and accounts management starts with each and every one of us. With these 6 simple tips on how to create strong passwords, a simple layman like you and me definitely stand a chance against those pesky hackers.