Tools for stronger passwords

What’s the fuss about creating a strong password? The same password you’ve been using since the past 5 years is great, it’s easy to remember. Why do anything differently?

Having a strong password ensures the confidentiality and security of the University’s electronic information of students and employees.  This is valuable information and needs robust protection. Weak passwords are a hacker’s BFF (Best Friend Forever). They can steal university information for financial or malicious gain. This could cause serious harm. For this reason, a lot is written about using strong passwords also known as smart passwords, complex passwords or secure passwords.

Cyber criminals are continually improving their techniques and already check for:

  • Words you can find in the dictionary of any language
  • Words spelled backwards, common misspellings, abbreviations
  • Common letter to symbol conventions such as changing “to” to “2” or changing “and” to “&”
  • Personal information such as your pet’s name, your child’s name, your spouse’s name, your name, your birthday, driver’s license info, etc.

How do you know if your password is strong or not? Try one of these tools:

Here are some tips to improve your password:

  • Length: at least 8 characters long; it will take longer for the hacker to decipher
  • Complexity: at least 3 uppercase/lower case letters, numbers, and special characters, make a security soup
  • Variation: change them at least every 3 months; create an automatic reminder to change your email, banking, and credit card websites
  • Variety: use a different password for every site you use; different sites=different passwords.

Creating a good password may seem difficult to do especially since you’ve been using the same old password all this time. One technique to help make it easier is to use shorthand:

  1. Think of a sentence (e.g. You are great today)
  2. Remove all the spaces (e.g. Youaregreattoday)
  3. Turn some words into shorthand or intentionally misspell a word (e.g. YouRgrateToday)
  4. Add numbers that are meaningful to you after the sentence (e.g. YouRgrateToday:1999)

Another technique is to use phonics then substitute numbers or symbols for letters:

  1. Think of a sentence
  2. Remove all the spaces
  3. Use phonics
  4. Substitute some letters by a number or punctuation

If you are still struggling, use a password generator:

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