Creating Secure Passwords

In a recent post I described how to connect a network at home to your broadband Internet connection. In that post I mentioned how you should create a password that is "easy to remember, but not easy to guess." I will elaborate more on how to create passwords that are hard to guess, easy to remember, and very secure.

To create secure passwords keep the following rules in mind:

  1. Never use default passwords such as "password", "Password1", or blank.
  2. Don’t use your name, names of family members or pets.
  3. For numbers, stay away from your birthday, year, month or day. In fact, don’t use any number that can easily be associated with you.
  4. Use more than just letters, such as punctuation and numbers.
  5. Some passwords are case-sensitive, so use both upper and lower case letters.
  6. Make sure that your password is a minimum of 6 characters in length.

With those rules in mind, let’s get to creating a secure password.

Using Phrases

When creating passwords try to come up with a phrase that is easy to remember. A phrase should satisfy the minimum of 6 characters rule. The next steps will transform a phrase into a password. For the example we will use "I like Bond films."

  1. Remove the spaces so the phrase becomes one long word. You can also replace some of the spaces with an underscore (_) character, if you wish.
  2. Result: ilikebondfilms

  3. Capitalize some of the letters to make the password more case-sensitive.
  4. Result: ilikeBondFilms (the "B" and "F" are captialized)

  5. Replace some of the letters with punctuation that looks similar to the letter.
  6. Result: il!keBondFilms (an exclamation mark replaced the "i")

  7. Repace some of the letters with numbers that also look similar to the letter.
  8. Result: il!keB0ndFi1ms (a zero and one have been added)

  9. I’ll add some more numbers and a letter to make it more secure.

    Result: il!keB0ndFi1ms0O7 (a zero, "O" and seven were added)

Now you have a secure password, containing letters, numbers and punctuation, and is at least 6 characters long. Even if someone knows that you like James Bond films, they would still need to match the letter case, numbers and punctuation exactly to get the password correct.

To help with matching punctuation and numbers to letters, the table below lists some common replacements:

Comparison

Letter Replacement
a @
e 3
i !, 1 (one)
o 0 (zero)
s 5

Number Passwords

There are times where a password must be numeric only, such as a PIN number or voicemail password. When letters and punctuation cannot be used, how do we make it secure enough where someone can’t guess it quickly. Just as before, there are certain rules to following when creating number only passwords:

  1. Don’t use recognizable dates, such as birthdays or anniversaries.
  2. Ensure the number is as long as possible to make the total numbers to guess large.
  3. Don’t use a simple pattern of numbers, such as 1234 or 1111.

From the rules above, you might be thinking, how do I come up with a number to use? It’s easy, don’t come up with one number, come up with at least two numbers, and put them together. The steps below show how to do this:

  1. First come up with two numbers that are easy to remember.

    Result: 1867 (Canada’s year of Confederation) and 1918 (end of World War I).

  2. Join those two numbers together.
  3. Result: 186718 or 191867 or 181867 or 196718.

    Note: If the password can only be 4 characters in length, just choose one of the numbers, and then after some time, switch to the other.

Summary

We live in a world where we use passwords to protect ourselves and our data from others who are looking to use our information in possible illegal ways. It is important, therefore, to create passwords that would make it very difficult for those who try to view our information to actually retrieve it. This post has provided several tips on how to ensure that our lives and data remain that more secure.

7 Responses to “Creating Secure Passwords”

  1. Lex says:

    Thank you so much!! This helped alot!

  2. Brian says:

    Thanks for the tips. You hav helped me reste a wireless router and create a secure network, protecting my family and saving me $29.99 from the customer service department. The password tips was a nice addition to the router reset explanation. I will save your site as a reference.

  3. MeNotYou says:

    @ Roldan — You can’t get the username and passwords back. You must reset your router. Go to this website that I just used to do the same thing since I just got a new router from a garage sale and didn’t have the router password. http://technicallyeasy.net/2008/01/how-to-reset-linksys-wrt54g-wireless/

  4. Roldan says:

    I forgot the username and password i used before, I’m wondering get how you get those
    back. Thanks for all of the good info you provided here.

  5. ronnie says:

    I mean i liv in an apartment.Can others living on the same builing be able to detect my wireless router?

    • Paul says:

      Those in adjacent units may be able to detect your wireless router. I live in a house, and I can pick up about 5 wireless networks, some with enough strength that I can connect to them. This is why securing your wireless network is important.

  6. ronnie says:

    I live in a unit, can other tennants detect my wireless router?

    thx

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