Can you password be solved?

Strong PasswordsHow secure is your password?

Are you one of those people who uses one of these most common passwords?

While looking for something online today, I came across this website – MD5 Decrypter. Wow. I never really thought about it, but I’m not surprised websites like this exist. Hackers can put your encrypted password in the form and it will be checked against a database to see if it can be “solved”.

Let me clarify this a bit. Passwords for many systems, are encrypted with the MD5 Algorithm. This algorithm can’t be de-crypted, so passwords can’t be guessed or solved that way. But the algorithm will always encrypt the same password the same way.

What this website I listed above does is houses a database of unencrypted passwords with their encrypted counterparts, so someone could enter the MD5 encrypted version of the password and it will check for a un-encrypted match in the database. So if your password is “password”, it could be solved using this website. If your password is “D%|CHW5i’^]]DB8”, then it likely won’t be solved using this password.

So what makes a good password? A good password is:

  • at least 12 characters long
  • uses both upper and lower case letters
  • uses numbers
  • uses symbols like ()!&^#*${}| etc.
  • does not contain your name, your kids names, your pets name, etc.
  • does not contain your birthday or anniversary, etc.
  • do not use the same password that you use for other sites
  • do not use a word from the dictionary
  • do not use a real word from any language

Now, I know that coming up with all these strong passwords is challenging and keeping track of them can be even worse. So use a good password keeper to help you. My favorite is PassPack. I like the versatility of it – there’s a web version or a desktop version (that can be synced with each other) so you don’t need to have internet access to be able to get your passwords. It also includes a built in password generator, so you can have it help you create a different strong password each time you need a new one.

If you don’t want to use a password keeper program, here’s another method you could use – come up with a passphrase, like “My neighbor’s dog won 1st place in the last dog show!” and then turn that into a password by using the password as an acronym – “Mndw1pit<DS!”, Just like pneumonic devices that we use to remember other things, your passphrase becomes a pneumonic device to remember the password.

I’d love to hear other suggestions for creating and remembering strong passwords. What method do you use?

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