How to Create a Hard-to-Crack Password


Simple passwords put your online security--and all your information--at risk, but you may be surprised by how many people have easy-to-crack passwords.

A recent study of 10,000 Hotmail, MSN and passwords that were exposed online found that "123456" was the most commonly used password. That no-brainer appeared 64 times.

Forty-two percent of the passwords used lowercase letters from a to z; only 6 percent mixed alpha-numeric and other characters, according to the analysis published in "Wired" Magazine.

Luckily, there are a few simple rules you can follow to create smart passwords that are hard to crack to protect yourself on the World Wide Web.

Things You'll Need

  • A little imagination
  • Know what not to do. The easiest-to-crack passwords are too few digits, all lowercase letters, all numbers in an easy-to-guess pattern, or a name, according to "Wired."

  • Choose a password with at least eight characters to be secure. The characters should be a mix of numbers and lowercase and uppercase letters.

  • Don't use names or numbers that are easily identified with you. No names of your children, dog, street address, phone number, birthdate or other personally connected words.

  • Use techniques that create passwords which appear to be nonsense. Take a sentence that you can remember. It should contain some numbers. Some of the words in the sentence should be capitalized. Here's an example sentence: By age 5 Megan could type 48 words per minute. As a password, that sentence would be: Ba5Mct48wpm.

    An example from Microsoft offered the sentence "My son Aiden is three years old." As a password that could read "MsAi3yo". Or, for even more complexity, use symbols to replace letters. With symbols substituted for some of the letters, you might end up with "M$8ni3y0."

  • Choose a phrase for an effective password. For example: prairie dogs. If some of the letters in the phrase were capitalized, it would be even better. For example: praiRie doGs. If numbers were used to replace some of the letters in the phrase it would be better yet. If a=4 and o=0, then the password would be: pr4iRie d0Gs.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you've been using easy-to-crack passwords, take the time to go to your online accounts and change your passwords to more secure ones.
  • Take advantage of Microsoft password checker to test your new passwords to make sure they will be hard to crack.
  • Keep your passwords secret.
  • Do not give a password that will be hard to remember.

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