Tech Tip - Choosing a Good Password

Posted by Aaron Leininger on 11/25/2019

This tip is related to the last one. I have been asked many times over the years what makes a good password. There are two components. One is length. Less than 8 characters is trivially guessable by a computer regardless of what letters, numbers and symbols are included. The second is ease of remembering. If a password, or password style, is hard to remember, no one will want to make a password in that style. 

A password of W#KANSKDNAsd32142NCXNZA@!#$@390 is incredibly secure but impossible to remember and thus useless without a password manager or writing it down (not a good idea...too easily stolen). On the flipside a password of password or qwerty is very easy to remember but a computer tool can get that in seconds. 

My best advise for choosing a password is to use a sentence, complete with spaces and proper punctuation, as your password. The password: "My dog's name is Fido." (without the quotes) is extremely secure with 21 characters (above 9 or 10 starts to take on the order of years for a computer program to get) and yet easy for us humans to remember! Also note in my password example that it has captial letters, lower case letters and punctuation marks. This adds complexity and thus makes it even harder to guess for a computer. 

If you are comforatable using password managers (see last week's tech tip for more!), you can resort to purely random nonsense for passwords and be secure as you'll never need to memorize them. 

Stay tuned for another tip next week.
Thank you for your time and have a great Thanksgiving!