Jan 15, 2014

How do you evaluate the strength of your passwords?

I know many, many people use terrible passwords. I try to make mine both something I can remember and reasonably strong. What do you use to objectively evaluate the strength (or weakness) of your passwords?

Create strong passwords

"A strong password is an important protection to help you have safer online transactions. Here are some steps to create a strong password. Consider using some or all to help protect yourself online:

Length. Make your passwords at least eight (8) long.

Complexity. Include a combination of at least three (3) upper and/or lowercase letters, punctuation, symbols, and numerals. The more variety of characters in your password, the better.

Variation. Change your passwords often. Set an automatic reminder to update passwords on your email, banking, and credit card websites every three months.

Variety. Don't use the same password for everything. Cyber criminals can steal passwords from websites that have poor security, and then use those same passwords to target more secure environments, such as banking websites."
Common sense goes a long way in choosing and evaluating a password. Using something you can remember that's not too easy (numerical sequences, your last name backwards, etc.) is a good strategy. I also make a point not to use passwords based on any information about me that can be found online.

There are quite a few tools online, but one thing to keep in mind is you don't want to just go to some unknown website and start entering your actual passwords. After all, Acme Crime's website could have a password checker that welcomes you to give them all of your actual passwords. Microsoft has one that is interesting - it attempts to predict the next character. All of your browser log entries are encrypted on this site, by the way, before they are sent to MS's servers. 


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