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It's 2018, Let's Talk About Password Complexity

If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you are more than aware that the internet is essentially the Wild West right now. Hackers and career criminals make a fortune exploiting computer users, and extort them for ransom, paid in bitcoin. Just like in the real world, criminals can attack at any time. But also just like in the real world, you can become more streetwise, gain some spacial awareness and make yourself safe when surfing and working on the web.

For most average people, the weakest link in their security is simply their password. In 2018, the phrase “password” is even a bit of a misnomer. It’s much better and much safer to use passphrases. There are a few strategies to write good passphrases that I recommend. Start by choosing a few of your favorite things. For example, I will start with my favorite band, Guided by Voices. I will also use one of my favorite songs from them, like “Echos Myron.” Take some words from each of your sources, and mix it up with maybe some meaningful numbers to you.

Let’s give it a shot:

VoicesJMY6ASMyron7988Liberty

This password is constructed of the third word from the name of the band, a license plate number for a car, the second word from the song title, part of a phone number, and a standout word from the song. Since you built this phrase yourself, you should be able to remember it easily, and you now have a 28-character password! Passphrases can be super powerful because it makes it very easy to remember a long string of characters that would make very little sense to anyone else but you. If you build all of your passphrases like this, your passwords will be nearly impossible for another human to guess. You can take it another step further by substituting letters or numbers for symbols. For example in the password above, you can replace all the ‘i’ characters with the ‘!’ symbol. This will break most of the dictionary words in your password making it even more impenetrable, while being just as easy to remember!

Let’s take a look:

Vo!cesJMY6ASMyron7988L!berty

Also, our new password manager, TeamPassword, offers a password generation tool with options to specify password length and character sets. This makes it easy to generate and save secure passwords for any service you use. Additionally, TeamPassword encrypts all passwords with a master key that you set before sending them to their servers, so no one is able to read them unless they have your master key.

See how well that works? And it’s easy. Go have some fun updating your passwords, and remember to change them frequently!

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