Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Choosing a good password

While it's good to have a reliable password manager to track passwords to your various accounts, it's even more important to have a good, secure password in the first place.

The best security in the world is only as good as your password. Choosing an easily guessed password means that even the best protection schemes won't be able to save you from yourself.

This isn't anything new, but it's good remind ourselves every now and again.

Why it's important

Simply put: privacy and identity. Think of your password as the key to your personal data and identity. If you have anything private that you'd like to keep that way, then it's a good idea to not only have a secure password but to also practice safe web surfing.

As for identity, anybody with access to your online accounts can do everything that account allows you to. And they're doing it as you. To the rest of the world, it is you.

What makes a good password?

So how does one know if a password's good? Here's a few pointers.

The longer the password the better. That means there's more possible combinations for would-be crackers to brute force before they figure it out. Coupled with strong encryption, it's pretty much "uncrackable".

No password is uncrackable though, so be sure to change your password on a regular basis. A moving target is much harder to hit than one standing still.

Whatever you do, don't tell anyone your password. If possible, don't even record it anywhere except in your head. It's the safest place to be. I realise it's a hard thing to do in this day and age when we tend to have lots and lots of online accounts. The best alternative is to use password management software for storing all those passwords.

Think of something that's hard to guess but easy to remember. It should be something nobody'd ever guess you'd pick as your password. If not even people who know you well can guess it, then it's a good candidate. If you have a really good memory then a completely random password using a password generator might be a good idea.

Of course, that's not all. There's plenty of articles online on how to choose a good password. Usewisdom.com has a nice post on this topic, for example. A little research goes a long way to improving your security.