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Information Security: How To Create Secure Passwords

Information Security: How to create strong passwords

How To Create Secure Passwords

Using simple, easy-to-guess or common passwords is like living in a rough community and using the same key as your neighbour to open your front door then keeping the key under the footmat. 

Although it can sometimes be a minor annoyance, passwords have become a normal part of what we do. These days even televisions require passwords, as well as many other products and services. Passwords are now a critical part of our digital lives and many times the only barrier between our valuable assets & those trying to steal them.  

It is therefore interesting to see some of the passwords that are used around the world to secure sensitive data. Many people naturally (or by default) use easy-to-guess passwords such as their names & dates of birth, names of close family members, mother’s maiden name, sequential numbers, dictionary words and others. These passwords may be easily broken/cracked by friends, family members or work colleagues, not to mention professional hackers using either brute force or a process called social engineering. 

Passwords To Avoid

Learning how to create secure passwords begins by knowing what makes a password difficult to hack, and what types to avoid. Avoid simple, easy-to-guess passwords like those that use your name, date of birth or other publicly available personal data. Also avoid passwords that use sequential numbers or letters on the keyboard. You should also not use dictionary words for your password, as these can be hacked by brute force. Some of the five most commonly used passwords in the world that should also be avoided are: 

  1. 123456
  2. 123456789 
  3. qwerty 
  4. password 
  5. 12345 

Unfortunately, using these type of simple passwords means they can easily be guessed and cracked – somewhat like using a piece of cardboard for your front door.

Password strength checkers exist as standalones or part of password managers. You can evaluate your passwords now to see if they are secure, and avoid losing valuable data. Kaspersky gives the result in the image below when “123456” is tested as password.

Kaspersky Password Strength Meter

What Is A Secure Password?

A secure password is one that has a significantly long number of characters and contains a mix of uppercase letters, lower case letters, numbers & special characters. It should have a minimum of 12 – 16 characters. The longer your password is, the longer it would take for an intruder to guess what it is (brute force attack). Secure passwords are a vital part of your information security. 

As humans, it is difficult and stressful creating a password like “b$k2VY?ne9BF”. It can become more stressful trying to repeat the process multiple times for your personal email, work email, social & business networking accounts, bank account, satellite tv account, and more. Most people simply create one or two passwords and use them everywhere they are required. This is not recommended.

The image below shows  about how long it would take to hack a strong password of 12 characters.

How to create secure passwords

The password becomes significantly longer to crack when four characters are added, making it 16 characters as shown below.

Information Security: How to create secure passwords

How To Create Secure Passwords That Can Be Remembered?

Creating secure passwords that are easily be remembered is a challenging task for most people. A team of people we once worked with used to ‘worry’ whenever it was time to create passwords. The passwords created were strong ones that were hard to remember, but difficult to crack. 

But what is the use of good passwords if they will be written on pieces of paper or stored in unprotected files that are easy to find and access? Some organisations enforce password policies across their systems to make computer users create strong passwords and change them periodically. 

Password managers are one of the best ways to securely generate, store and manage passwords. They offer more advantages at creating and managing strong passwords securely than trying to remember them ourselves.  

Examples of popular password managers are 

  • Keeper 
  • LastPass 
  • Dashlane 
  • Bitwarden  

Using password managers is also better than reusing passwords. Don’t be part of the over 73% of people who reuse passwords, as the cost of data loss using this unsafe practice can be high. 

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