Thursday, 2 February 2012

Whats the password?

I don't know about you but I get aggravated by the amount of times I have to think up a new password.  I seem to have several options on the go, and end up using them in the wrong order, on the wrong website or simply completely going blank.

What doesn't help is the bank web sites that will ask me for the 4th, 6th and 8th character of my password, which makes things harder to work out.  However, this seems to be an increasing issue with most of the computer users I talk to, so maybe it's a good idea to look into why passwords are so important.

Before we get into what makes a good password, maybe we should have a look at the top 20 passwords most commonly used.  If your password is below, then CHANGE IT!

1. password
2. 123456
3. 12345678
4. qwerty
5. abc123
6. monkey
7. 1234567
8. letmein
9. trustno1
10. dragon
11. baseball
12. 111111
13. iloveyou
14. master
15. sunshine
16. ashley
17. bailey
18. passw0rd
19. shadow
20. 123123


So what makes a good password? Quite often web sites require a password of 6 or more characters, and the more secure sites will suggest ones with numbers, upper and lower case characters. Why the fuss?

So lets imagine a web site wants a 6 character password, just lower case.  26 letters of the alphabet, 6 times. So that's 26 x 26 x 26 x 26 x 26 x 26.  For those that want to know, that's a combination of 308,915,776. Pretty secure. Surely?  But how many of us would make up a random combination of letters?

In reality, there's only just over 15,000 6 letter words in the English language.  Suddenly that becomes a little more scary.  So now, what if we decided to increase that to an 8 character password? Same letters? 208,827,064,576 combinations of random letters. But, what if you had 8 characters, using upper and lower case, and the numbers 0 - 9 ? Suddenly your 208 Billion Number combination races up to 218,340,105,584,896.

It might look a little confusing and needless for most instances, but the more combinations a password can take the less chances you have of having your account hacked.

Another tip, is to not use the same password across several sites. For if one password gets found, they won't get access to other sites with the same password.

Passwords are important. 6Hg4Rf9e might look a little complicated, but it won't be listed in the top "passwords not to use" list for a long while!

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