What’s the Magic Word?

With all our lives tucked away online, are we taking the time to protect our data securely?

HACKED!

Well, not Netwise of course, but another name stuck in the conscious of every modern-day mind: Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook. How could this be? We’ve all heard the tolling warnings: “Never reuse a password.” And we all turn right around and use “password” or “1234” on every account we have, don’t we (Yes, even the CEO of Facebook)? However, the urgency of strong passwords is increasing in this age of frequent hacking and nosey associates. So here we stand, stuck between the threat of every credit report and selfie finding their way into someone’s hands and the equally alarming vision of a list of passwords so long and complicated we can’t even use them. What to do? Never fear, Netwise is here with some tips that will surprise you.

The Secret Life of Passwords

Did you know that the password “Aj7dKk$m02” takes less time to hack than “Mynameisjoe!”? Allow me to let you in on a secret: your password doesn’t have to be crazy gibberish to keep you safe! As long as you don’t simply use a word in the dictionary, there is no practical difference between those super complicated computer-generated passwords and the ones you can create. So bid adieu to the headache!

How to Create a Strong Password

The formula is simple. Use a memorable combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and character. For example, “!ASkyFullofStars1”, a simple song title in camel case with a character in front and number in back. Here’s a relic from my college application days: SatPrep2012.

Still stuck in the creation phase? Here’s a couple of tricks.

  1. Pick a sentence and use the first letter from each word, capitalizing at least one of them.
  2. Replace letters with characters or numbers to add complexity. “I” can be swapped with “1” or “!”. A -> 4, a -> @, e -> 3
  3. If you’re updating a password, increment the number appended, or increase by a common factor if you’re feeling nostalgic over your arithmetic sequence days in high school. Ex:FunIntheSun2 -> FunIntheSun4
  4. If you have a pesky account that requires a new password almost every season, you can use a season in your password and change that every time. Ex: Summer2016 -> Fall2016

Keep two or three different passwords, and try not to use the same one for many related accounts, like Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re still feeling uncertain, here’s a goldmine of help: https://www.grc.com/haystack.htm

This site will evaluate your password’s strength by how long it would take to crack it using brute force; 19.4 billion years should help you sleep more peacefully at night.

It may be a bit of a hassle, but password creation certainly doesn’t need to be rocket science. However, a strong password may indeed protect your rocket science (if that’s what you’re up to), so don’t overlook this vital little sequence! For more world-saving advice, don’t forget to check Netwise on Twitter and Facebook. Until next time!

strong passwords blackboard