Magazine article Information Today

Passwords: A Tangled Web

Magazine article Information Today

Passwords: A Tangled Web

Article excerpt

The formula for a secure password adheres to a predefined checklist of do's and don'ts. Security experts suggest that a password should include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters and incorporate numerals and special characters. It should not be a word that appears in a dictionary or information available on your social media site. As the first line of defense against a cyberattack, it's important to use a different password for each of your sites. Several sites, from Microsoft to the U.S. government, offer plenty of guidelines (e.g., www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/passwords-create.aspxand http://blog.usa.gov/post/25029112100/keep-your-personal-information-safe-online-with-strong).

The Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science offers viable options for selecting passwords for those who have a tough time creating passwords that they can remember easily. One of the best methods for choosing passwords is to create a sentence you can easily remember. For example, here are two: "I have two kids: Jack and Jill." Or perhaps "I like to eat Dave & Andy's ice cream."

Once you have a sentence in mind, take the first letter of every word in the sentence and include the punctuation. You can also throw in an extra punctuation mark or turn numerals into digits for a little variety. So for the two sample sentences, the passwords would become: "Ih2k:JaJ" and "Il2eD&A'ic," respectively.

Microsoft offers another tip. Try substituting numerals, symbols, and misspellings (yes, it's OK in this case) for letters or words from an easy-to-remember phrase. …

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