The Good Password Guide

Choosing good passwords is vital, ultimately they are what identifies you as you and they protect your information.  Here we provide you with guidance on how to choose and keep secret "good" passwords.

10 September 2012 Briefings  Security

Security - Article

Access to almost any publically available online service requires a username and a password.  Your username will usually be easily guessed which means the security of your accounts comes down to how good or bad your passwords are. 

Choosing good passwords can be quite difficult - they need to be easy for you to remember (so you don't have to write them down on a post-it note next to your computer) but difficult for others (and in particular computers) to guess.

How good is your current password?

Before we look at how to choose a good password why not see how good your current password is.  This online site (link below) will let you type in a password and show you how long it would take a computer to guess it as well as providing some good password tips.

The site is secure and won't be recording your password however if you are uneasy about using one of your actual passwords, try something similar to what you already have instead.

Why bother?

Modern computing power allows a desktop computer to make so many guesses a second that a complicated seven character password can be guessed within an hour and an eight character password would only take a few days to guess.  What was previously considered a good password is ofter no longer the case.

Of course the reality is a little bit more complicated than that but having a good password is very important and if you are still not convinced then read on...

  • As noted, your "username" is often well known or easy to guess
  • This means your password is the only thing that identifies you as you and protects what you can access.
  • You may not have anything of interest in your account/computer/phone but hackers may just be looking to use you to get to someone else or to use your device to attack others with you as their unwitting accomplice.
  • So if nothing else, you have a duty of care to everyone else to help protect them and information about them.

Choosing a good password and keeping it secret are very important.

Simple rules for a good password

The basic rules for a good password is to use at least three from the following and come up with something that is ideally 10 characters or longer:

  1. Use a mix of upper and lower case letters
  2. Include some numbers (at least 2 digits somewhere)
  3. Include some punctuation marks (e.g. + - / # @ etc.)
  4. Replace letters with numbers or punctuation marks (e.g. replace a B with an 8, or a s with a 5)

Your password should be easy to for you to remember and difficult for anyone else to guess. It should also be easy to adapt when you are asked to change it.

Examples

  • Great! - coPper89keTtle, go88ldyg00k, cat+flap!99
  • Awful! - A word, name or number (e.g. cat, michael, 02071234567)
  • Worst possible! - password, fred, 1234, qwerty

Need help choosing a password?

If you are having difficult choosing a good password then try this site:

Don't be put off by the fact that the site is aimed at children - unlike many other password generators we have seen it generates passwords that are both strong and memorable. 

Keep clicking for a strong password until you find one you can remember and also take note of what Dino is saying.  For fun, try a few more to see what Dino has to say.

When you have a good password

  • Don’t write your password down in an easily identifiable form (If you must write it down, ensure it is kept under lock and key at all times)
  • Don’t share your password – remember it is what identifies you as you.
  • Try to avoid letting the software on your computer or device remember your passwords.

You can use applications such as "Password Managers" and password vaults to managed and store your passwords.  If so thoroughly research the product before using it and always make sure you have a back up just in case.

Too many passwords to remember?

We do appreciate that you probably have lots of different codes, passwords and PINs to remember so:

  • Have a handful of good passwords rather than write down a multitude.
  • Put 2 or more digit number in your password, you simply increment the number each time you are asked to change it.

How to change your Chambers Technology Support network password

  • Speak to one of the IT team (in person only)
  • We will ask you what you want as your new password.
  • If we feel it isn’t secure enough we will ask you to think of another.
  • The password will then be changed.
  • You should log off your computer and log back on straight away to ensure the new password is correct.

Why can’t I set the Chambers Technology Support network password myself?

The IT Manager has decided on this policy and the reason is... "To be perfectly honest, I don’t trust you to pick a good enough password".

Your password and us

In the ideal world we would never need to know your password however sometimes we need to be "you" to recreate the problem.

Having you there every time we need a password can be a bit inconvenient so: Do not give your password to someone you don’t know especially over the phone.

The Good Password Guide

  • We hope you appreciate why a good password is essential.
  • By following a few simple rules you can choose a password that is easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess.
  • We are happy to help with password changes and choosing a good password.

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Corrections or suggestions