Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #83 12/1/2010

Question: What is a strong password?


Password are used to make information more secure on a computer or network by requiring people to prove they are who they say they are. This is also called authenticating. Passwords are the most common method although there are other methods that are growing including fingerprints, retina scans, identification information, etc.

Passwords are considered to be stronger when they are more complex and harder to guess. However this does not mean they have to be harder to remember. For instance article is acceptable as a password but is not very strong or is considered weak. @rt1cle would be a strong or complex password, but notice it is still article.

A strong password usually meets several rules. First it is not a word so that someone cannot use a computer to guess it suing what is called a dictionary attack. Second it contains more than letters. Third it contains at least three of the following: uppercase letters, numbers, special characters and lowercase letters. Then it becomes harder to guess.

However there are ways to make a strong password easy to remember. Use a word familiar to you and put a number in the middle of it that means something to you. For instance use your child’s name and put their birthday in middle. Another is like I showed on article, change letters to similar special characters. You could change some letters from lower case to upper case, change l or I to the number 1, change a to @ and change p to 9. You now have a password you can remember but is hard for someone (or computer) to guess.

The one oddity I find about passwords is we are sometimes required to use strong passwords where there is hardly any information that is secret or sensitive but our passwords to use an ATM machine are almost always very weak in that they are four digits. However you cannot use those passwords across the Internet and you also have to have the correct ATM card with it which increases the security.