Creating Strong Passwords & Dealing With Hacked Accounts
By on October 9th, 2009

Do you remember how we had told you about generating strong passwords and using the best tools for generating strong passwords, Those tips would help you to create a strong password that you can remember.

Since several thousand Hotmail passwords were hacked, we thought it best to revisit this area, and come up with some more on generating strong passwords, that you can remember.

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What to Avoid in Passwords?

As far as possible, avoid your birth date, telephone number, spouse name, dad’s name, nickname and whatever else that can be easily guessed or known by several people.

On the other hand, 1234567890 and abcdefgh are not passwords. They are just ways to tell kindergarten kids, Hey, I don’t care about my account. Here, take it and do whatever you want with it.

Oh, and lest we forget here are some of the lousiest passwords used on the Internet.

Ninja Combination Passwords

Before you read ahead, you might want to read my earlier post on substituting characters with random letters or symbols in passwords, once you do that, you will understand the process better.

Find the Best and Worst Combinations

A good way of creating passwords is to combine two drastically different things to form a combination, and then use it to create a password. For example, your favorite actor and your worst apartment, your favorite vacation spot and your most hated boss, your favorite restaurant and the worst pharmacy.

Once you have a combination, write it down on a paper. Now, say my favorite actor is Nicholas Cage and my worst Apartment address was 104 Some Building.

We can take these two words to form a combination, which becomes Nicholas Cage 104 Some Building. A strong password usually consists of 8-10 characters, so we take the first two characters out of each of these words and form a lowercase combination nica10sobu.

Ninja Character and Numbers Replacement

Since you have your strong password right, lets complicate it a bit further. Lets come up with a chart to replace alphabets with numbers and symbols, here is the updated password n1c4!)s0bu.

What I did here was replace letters with similar numbers, ilooks like 1, alooks like 4, olooks like 0 and so on. In addition to that, I replaced numbers with corresponding symbols on the keyboard, which I typed by holding the shift key. So 1becomes ! and 0becomes ).

Note: Follow your own Ninja conversion chart for replacing characters and numbers with something that you are comfortable with.

Final Touches to Your Strong Password

The password above is really strong, but lets add some finishing touches to make it really deadly. Considering the length of the password, come up with two numbers in between them, that you like and capitalize them. You won’t be able to capitalize numbers and symbols, so choose 2 which have characters in them.  Let’s say I like 3 and 7, so my final password becomes n1C4!)S0bu.

Voila, you have a strong password that 99.99% dictionary attacks can’t guess, but what about you? You should remember it too right? That’s easy, just write this phrase somewhere. The best actor and the worst apartment. My favorite numbers are 3 and 7.

Using a simple trick, we came up with a pretty complicated password, that is very easy to remember.

Changing Passwords Frequently

Creating strong passwords will keep you ahead of hackers, and other people trying to pry information from you. However, you have to keep a notch ahead of them too.

Keep changing your passwords every three months or so, you can decide your own schedule. Considering how easy it is to create strong passwords from things you will remember, this shouldn’t be a hard task, should it?

Different Ninja Everywhere

Well, if a Ninja went to several places, there is a chance that he might be spotted and recognized, by chance or otherwise. Similarly using the same password for several services would put you in a vulnerable position. As far as possible, use different passwords for banking and email.

Setting up Password Recovery Options

Many email providers give you the ability to set up password recovery options, such as adding  a secret question and providing temporary emails. Some including also allow you to setup SMS password recovery.

Make sure to fill out this information accurately, as in case of your account being hacked, or if you forget your password, you will need to provide this information in order to recover your account.

Another important thing, is to use a proper alternative email address, this is very important since many email providers deactivate email accounts after a certain period. Someone else could easily claim that email account and compromise both your accounts.

In addition, don’t ever try and use the “remember passwords” when logging into a web service  in public. If you do that, take a moment to read, when you should remember your passwords in public places.

Don’t forget to share your tips with us on creating strong passwords. We would love to try those out.

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Author: Keith Dsouza Google Profile for Keith Dsouza
I am the editor-in-chief and owner of Techie Buzz. I love coding and have contributed to several open source projects in the past. You can know more about me and my projects by visiting my Personal Website. I am also a social networking enthusiast and can be found active on twitter, you can follow Keith on twitter @keithdsouza. You can click on my name to visit my Google+ profile.

Keith Dsouza has written and can be contacted at keith@techie-buzz.com.
 
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