We all need passwords, every online system uses them and until we find something better, they are here to stay.  But how do we make them secure?

A good password is one which no person (or computer program) would be able to guess.  Just adding numbers in place of letters doesn’t cut it and is too easy to guess.  So too is using a childs or pets name – even with a number at the end.

Various web sites list some of the most popular passwords in use around the world.  The top 20 is reported to include: password,  123456,  qwerty,  letmein,  monkey,  shadow,  football and dragon.  Even adding numbers to one of these offers very little in the way of protection.  Guessing ‘password17’ is only 16 guesses away from ‘password’ with a hacker able to guess at a rate of hundreds per second, how secure are you really?  Check it out at https://howsecureismypassword.net/

So what’s the answer?

The only way to have a secure password on a site which doesn’t allow second factor authentication is to pick something which on-one will easily guess.  Maybe link three totally random words together with some form of punctuation – for example purple!bike!coffee something you stand a chance of remembering, but will take some time to brute force.  Simply adding three or four full stops to the end exponentially increases security too.

If you’re really in the mood for a secure password, check out this site for a way to get high entropy passwords or WiFi keys – https://www.grc.com/passwords.htm

Just as important it not reusing passwords.  In the event that one site is breached, the last think you want is for the stolen password to unlock your entire digital life.

How do I remember all those passwords?

That’s a great question.  Basically you need a password manager.  Here at Westcom we love LastPass.  It’s simple to use, secure and even audits your password vault, looking for weaknesses.


Finally, if you think this doesn’t matter – check out https://haveibeenpwned.com/ to see how many breaches your email address has been involved in.  If you reused any passwords from sites which may have been compromised, now is the time to change them!

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