Notes on Making an Effective Password

Passwords are very essential in keeping the privacy and confidentiality of your resources and your identity. In this information age where everyone can gain access to almost all sorts fo information, security is something never to be neglected but is always overlooked. The topic on passwords and keeping them secure must be something that is already known by many but is never practiced by most. So, I am writing just to reiterate and make others aware again of the need for effective password and how to gain one. I hope it helps.

Keep in mind that a weak password can lead to serious troubles just like the following:

  • It can allow a virus to gain access to your computer and spread through the network to which you are connected.
  • It can allow hackers to gain access to your computer as well as other private information in your network through your account.
  • Once a hacker gained control of your account, he can use it to send malicious messages to other people. You will be held legally responsible for any damages done by someone else using your account.
  • The confidentiality of your files and records will be compromised.

In choosing a password, do:

  • create passwords that are at least 8 characters in length
  • incorporate some  punctuation marks or special characters like ! @ # $ % * ( ) – + = , < > : : “ ‘ .
  • make a password relatively easy for you to remember but virtually impossible for others to guess
  • vary the case of letters (e.g. aVNshakI)

Tip: Think of a full sentence. Now take the first letter of each word from that sentence and add a few digits to the end. Voila! You now have a unique, difficult-to-crack password.

Ex: Coming up with new passwords is sometimes difficult.
Password: cuWnPIsd514

On the other hand, do not use:

  • previously employed passwords or variations of them
  • proper names
  • words from the dictionary
  • common character sequences e.g. 12345, mar2004
  • derivatives of your user ID
  • personal information like your name, your spouse’s and pet’s names, license plate numbers, social insurance numbers, and birthdates

Tip: Did you know that there is a program in Linux that can help you in creating effective passwords?

The pwgen program is a password generator that helps create pronounceable passwords as well as strong passwords by random generation.

You can easily install pwgen program in your system by issuing the command $pacman -S pwgen in your terminal.

After successfully installing the program, you can now generate a password in your preferred variation by following this syntax :  pwgen [OPTION] [pw_length] [num_of_pwd]

Examples:

  • $pwgen 8 6  => generates 6 passwords, all 8 characters in length
  • $pwgen -0A  => generates passwords with no numeric and capitalized values; this is a less secure password
  • $pwgen -B => generates a password that contains non-ambiguous values that could be confused when printed like ‘0’ and ‘O’ or ‘l’ and ‘1’; it still reduces the quality of passwords generated but can be useful for users with bad vision
  • $pwgen -n => generates passwords that contains at least one number

To know more of the pwgen options, read the man pages.

Sources:
http://www.utexas.edu
http://www.ccs.uottawa.ca
http://linux.die.net

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