Passwords

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How Secure is Your Password?

Passwords are the keys to securing access to the digital environments we work in, yet, strong passwords tend to be problematic because they are easily forgotten. For ease, users tend to create passwords that are easy for them to remember such as the name of their pets or children - adding a few numbers at the end to meet the system's password length requirement. Unfortunately, these are still very weak passwords that can easily be cracked within hours or days.

Designing Your Secure Password

A common and easy way to create a secure password is to use the first letter of each word from an 8-10 word phrase. In addition to using both upper and lower case characters, substitute "look-alike" numbers and symbols for some of the characters. For example, using the phrase, Sacred Heart Chapel overlooks the bluff at Loyola Marymount, the following base password would be generated: shcotbalm. A better use of this base password might be to substitute the 's' for a '5', the 'o' for a '0' and change the case for the letters 'l' and 'm'. The final more secure 9-character password is 5hc0tbaLM.

This password would take approximately 43 years to crack using a brute-force attack by a dual-processor PC in comparison to the base password that would only take a matter of days to crack.