How to Pick a Proper Password

These days there are thousands of various tools and services available online. No matter if you’re searching for something that can help you with your work or just for some entertainment you are sure to stumble upon dozens on top of dozens of different websites.

Not surprisingly, almost every one of them asks you to create an account, which means picking a username, and a password. And passwords are where the trouble starts.

Most people go with standard, eay to guess phrases. There are two reasons for this: laziness and simple convenience. If you use more than 10 tools (which you do) then memorizing multiple different passwords gets rather impossible. As a result, people tend to use just one master-password for everything.

Popular passwords

Not more than two weeks ago Mashable published a list of 25 most used passwords. Here they are:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678
  4. abc123
  5. qwerty
  6. monkey
  7. letmein
  8. dragon
  9. 111111
  10. baseball

The remaining 15 phrases: iloveyou, trustno1, 1234567, sunshine, master, 123123, welcome, shadow, ashley, football, jesus, michael, ninja, mustang, password1.

As you can see, they are all fairly basic. And the fact is that if you use any of them you can pretty much kiss your account goodbye…

Hacking a password

There are probably more than a few ways to hack a password, but the most basic one (the one that’s been around since the beginning of the internet) is the simple brute force method.

Brute force is when a piece of software tries to break a password by checking it against a dictionary of words and phrases.

The first step when picking a proper password is therefore to avoid the above 25 most popular passwords as they are surely present in such dictionaries.

Don’t use standard dictionary words

Moreover, whatever you do when picking a password, don’t go for a standard dictionary word (don’t use anything that can be found in a standard English dictionary).

If you make this mistake, every hacking bot will be able to break your password. It’s only a matter of time.

Birth place and date

One of the safe methods to pick a password is to use the place and date of your birth.

For instance, if you were born in Miami on Sep 24th, 1980, you can use a password like: Miami-09/24/1980.

Such a password is almost unbreakable (there’s always a possibility), unless the hacker knows you personally.

Of course, you shouldn’t use it as your only password for everything. It’s best to include some variety at the end of the password and make it custom for every service you’re a user of.

You can go with the “simple branding” trick. For instance, if you’re setting a password for Dropbox, you can use: Miami-09/24/1980-dropbox. For Google: Miami-09/24/1980-google. And so on…

Note. The general guidelines for picking a good password are still the same. You should try using both lower case and upper case letters, special characters (*$&%^_-=+ etc.), and numbers.

Managing your passwords

Basically, picking a proper password is not the difficult part. What’s difficult is remembering it later on. One way is to use the approach described above, the other is to manage your passwords with the use of a special app.

Two of my favorite ones are: LastPass (store and access your passwords online, plus there are browser add-ons available), and KeePass (manage your passwords on your local computer).

Of course, both apps require a master password in order to access them. But it’s always easier to remember just this one password than hundreds of them, right? Be careful though. If you forget this master password you’re in big trouble.

I know that passwords are a pretty private thing, but I want to ask you something anyway. Have you ever used any of the top 25 passwords mentioned above?

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance blogger and writer. Feel free to visit him at newInternetOrder to find out how to use the internet as a business tool. Also, make sure to check out his review and advice for people planning to buy Market Samurai.