Protect Your On-Line Assets with Complex Passwords

Cybertary recognizes that some of the most critical assets that a business has is their online presence, including its reputation. With the proliferation of websites, email accounts, social media sites and the like, we often find ourselves in a dilemma of creating a memorable password that is also complex. In this article, we offer some suggestions for creating a password that is harder to crack but one that can be more easily remembered.

One characteristic of a strong password is length, with a minimum of 8 characters. Fourteen plus characters is the current guideline for an ideal length. One option is to think of a phrase, a song lyric or a title of a favorite book. For those Godfather fans, perhaps “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli” is one that you will remember. If you channel My Fair Lady, “The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain” may work best for you. The point is to select a phrase that you will remember. Another option is to use the first 5-7 letters of the website domain, so for Dominion, you could choose Domin, Domini or Dominio. This latter suggestion works best if you want to have different passwords for each site that you visit. This practice will certainly strengthen your security posture but may make it more complicated to remember.

Change it up
If you are using the phrase suggestion, take the first letter of each of the words in the phrase. With “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli”., this would then become ‘ltgttc’. Alternatively, use the more memorable part of the entire phrase to reach your character count. In this case, “Takethecannoli”. Since upper and lower case use is important for most security programs that manage login credentials, select which letter you will capitalize consistently, perhaps the first, the last or the first for each word; in our example, the latter results in TakeTheCannoli.

Using the TakeTheCannoli example, substitute numbers or symbols for letters to further strengthen the password. For “i” use a 1 instead, for “e”, a 3, for “a”, the @ symbol and for “s”, a dollar sign ($) and so on. You get the idea. Use whichever substitutions you are likely to associate with a letter, be it a number or a symbol. TakeTheCannoli may now become T@k3Th3C@nn0l1. You now have an ideal password — 14 characters in length, mix of upper and lower case, with alpha, numeric and special characters interleaved. One word of caution here; not all security programs will allow the use of some of the special characters. This is typically older sites that may not be ones you want to access anyway.

If your password choice does not meet the minimum length, consider adding a nonsensical string of numbers, letters or symbols whose pattern you create. You can add this character string to the beginning and/or the end. Using the domain example, for instance, the password for Dominion could be “^%D0m1n10^%”, “%#d0m1N^%” or “$^d0M1n1%#”.

Vet the Security
There are password checkers available that help you determine if your password string meets the standard for a complex/strong password. Here is the link for the one that Microsoft publishes:

Creating a strong password is ideal, but creating a memorable complex one is more important. The goal is to keep the Cyber criminals at bay, protecting your online assets without having post it notes of your passwords stuck to your monitor.