Wayne State University

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Safe Passwords

Creating a strong password can be a challenge. On the one hand, you want something that will be easy to remember so you can access your account. On the other hand, you need a password that is strong enough to withstand guessing or cracking attempts.

Make your password strong. To increase strength, make sure your password includes:

  • Eight or more characters
  • Upper and lower case letters
  • Numbers
  • Symbols

 Don't leave yourself vulnerable. Make sure your password DOES NOT include:

  • Your username or account number
  • A single word
  • Your pet's name
  • Your birthday, phone number or your address

While using the same password for all of your online accounts is bad, creating some sort of pattern for how you create your passwords is actually one of the recommended ways on how you can keep your online identities secure. In the end, you need to create a password that is meaningful to you, but meaningless to everyone else.

Tips

  • The longer the password, the better. Adding just three additional characters to your password can make it over 140,000 times harder to guess if you are using uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • Stay a little abstract. For example, say you enjoy bird watching and want to incorporate that meaning into your passwords. Don’t use bird watch or something simple. Instead, think of a place or a time in which you had a great time bird watching. Then recall an object or a thing that stuck out in your mind at that time and use that final idea as your password, e.g. L@keErie3Hawk.
  • Don't just add a number to the end of your current password. All the bad guys know you do this and they alter their attacks to compensate.

Keeping this in mind, see how much more important it is to add complexity into your passwords. In the case of a 10 character password:

Character Sets Used in Password Possible Combinations
All Lowercase 141, 167, 095, 653, 376
Lowercase & Uppercase 144, 555, 105, 949, 057, 024
Lower/Upper & Numbers 839, 299, 365, 868, 340, 224
Lower/Upper/Numbers & Special Characters       59, 873, 693, 923, 837, 890, 625

A common solution is password managers. These tools save all of your passwords to all of your services and encrypt them securely. To access any of the services, you must enter a super-secure password and verify your identity. If you choose to use a password manager, be sure it is secure and trusted.

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