Privacy Week: 3 Reasons Why Your Passwords Are Bad and How to Fix Them

Many of us entrust companies that sell products online with our addresses, credit card numbers, and bank information. While the security on their end is dependent upon them, there are some things we can do to prevent malicious users from accessing our data. One of the most basic security devices we use on a daily basis is a password. A password is like the key to a door, the more complex it is the more difficult it is to enter unauthorized. Here are some common mistakes when it comes to creating passwords:

  1. It’s way too short!
    • 13+ characters at all times people. Do you know how long it takes to crack the 10 letter password “mynamejeff” in 2018? Roughly 3 months, if you change it to “mynamejeff2” the cracking time will jump to roughly 2 centuries. But just to be future proof you should go a bit further. Make it a 13-character password, “mynamejeff222”. Now it will take roughly 369 millennia to crack that bad boy!

black and white spinning clock hands

  1. You don’t test your passwords
    • There are plenty of sites online that will show you just how long it takes to crack your password. One such site is https://www.betterbuys.com/estimating-password-cracking-times/. You can see the estimated amount of time to crack your password as well as see how long it would of taken in 1992 for example.

Password strangeth bar going from fair to good to strong as more characters are typed.

  1. You use dictionary words
    • Sorry but even though the word skateboard has 10 letters, it will still be cracked in less than a second. Hackers check all words with meaning first before they start making random guesses. Lucky us there’s a way around this. Mix and match words! Sure, skateboard may be guessed instantly and so will turtle but a skateboard_turtle isn’t a real word and will take over 624 trillion years to crack.

tiny turtle on a tiny skateboard using his front legs to roll forward

For a more in depth look into strong passwords read on


By taking all of these factors into account you will be able to create some of the strongest passwords ever. Admittedly however, it can sometimes be hard to think up a good password. So next I’ll teach you tips on how to make your own easy to remember but hard to crack password. So with current technology passwords equal to or greater than 13 characters long are pretty much uncrackable. Meaning step one is to make sure whatever password you make is at least 13 characters long. Furthermore, it should be easy for you to remember. One of the best and easiest ways to do this is simply use sentences as passwords. Something like, “I really like Chinese food” or “this password is to hard to crack” are great examples. Unfortunately, due to the misconceptions of what makes a good password many sites have all sorts of hurdles you have to jump threw to make a valid password. Due to this it’s generally a good idea to make passwords that include at least 2 special characters, 2 numeric characters, and 2 alphabetic characters while avoiding using any 3 or more of the same character in a row. An easy way to accommodate this is to integrate these into your current password. For examples replacing “o” with “0”, “a” with “@”, “i” with “!”, or “space” with “_ “, to name a few. Just make sure whatever you substitute makes sense to you. Using this concept our last to example passwords might look like this, “!_re@11y_l!ke_ch!nese_f00d” and “th!s_p@ssw0rd_!s_h@rd_t0_cr@ck”.

If you take these steps into account next time you make a password than you can rest assured that the likeliness of it being cracked is slim to none. Plus, you’ll have the benefit of being able to easily remember your password therefore lowering the need to use some sort of password manager that would be devastating if in the wrong hands.

Learn more about your digital privacy:

ALA Choose Privacy Week

Privacy Paradox

Protect Your Privacy

Weapons of Math Destruction eBook | eAudiobook | Book

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