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30 January 2012

How strong is your password?

This morning I read a very interesting post about passwords by Geoff Duncan, on Digital Trends.  It made good reading, especially amid all the discussion about Google's new privacy settings. (I urge you to click here to read the whole article.)

"You use passwords every day to access things like your phone, your email, and social networking. But are you really keeping yourself safe?...

...If there’s one thing people associate with modern technology, it’s passwords. They’re everywhere, and most of us use them for dozens of things every day. Yet most people are shockingly indifferent about their password security. Most of us probably know someone who uses the same password for everything, from their computer and email to their Facebook and bank accounts — and that password might be something as obvious as their birthday or the name of the street where they grew up. And we also probably know someone who has a sticky note on the side of their monitor labelled “Passwords” (in red, double-underlined) with a list of everything from Twitter to Netflix just sitting in the open for anyone to read."

Mr. Duncan goes on to describe the ecology of passwords: obscurity versus complexity, how and why passwords are broken,  common errors in judgement when choosing passwords, and the necessity of changing them regularly.  He gives very useful advice about creating, using and storing passwords.

"The Holy Grail of passwords would then seem to be a password that is complex enough that it is impractical to crack using automated techniques, yet easy enough to remember that users don’t compromise security by storing or managing them unsafely."

Lastly, he reminds us that no password is safe.
"Perhaps the most important thing to remember about passwords is that any password can be cracked: It’s just a question of how much time and effort someone is willing to put into it. The tips here will help reduce the odds your passwords will be rooted out by random attackers and even friends and family, but no password is completely secure. If secure access to a service is very important to you, consider looking into various forms of multiple-factor authentication to further reduce the chances of unauthorized access."

Click here to read the whole article.

photo credits: formalfallacy @ Dublin (Victor) via photopin cc, Secure password of the week cc