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Creating strong passwords

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One of the things we don't enforce as much as we should here at Southeast Technical, is a policy of strong passwords. One of the reasons for this is that if a password is too difficult, people will end up writing them down and then "hiding" them under their keyboards.

That doesn't mean you should keep your password simple. The stronger the password, the better protected you are from identity and account theft.

Common passwords to avoid

On occasion, we have to help guess someone's password when working on their computer, or helping them with an online account. IT professionals can be more successful at this than you may think. This is because we know the most common passwords people use. Here are 10 of the top passwords*.

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. qwerty
  4. abc123
  5. letmein (one of my favorites)
  6. monkey
  7. myspace1
  8. password1
  9. blink182
  10. (the person's first name)

Other favorites include

  • admin
  • master
  • asdfjkl;
  • 55555 (six 6's, seven 7's, etc.)
  • 999 (I recently saw this used by a manager at Barnes & Noble!)
  • dragon
  • football
  • harley
  • (a rude word you couldn't say on television)

Hopefully, you aren't using any of these.

Strong passwords

Strong passwords have the following attributes:

  • They do not contain a word found in a dictionary
  • They use a mix of upper-case and lower-case letters
  • They use special characters (punctuation, symbols, etc.)
  • They do not use personal information, such as your house number or initials
  • They are not so complicated that you have to write them down
  • They are used in only one location (for one site or purpose)

This looks like a daunting list. However, there are several techniques out there that make it easier than you think to create strong passwords.

Making a secure password.

There are many techniques, but the one offered by Mozilla is a good as I've seen. It is easy to do and remember.


* Top ten list courtesy of Texas A&M