You only need one key to lock the door of your apartment. Things are much more complicated in the digital world, where we have dozens of accounts to protect. Since building a unique password can be frustrating, we have prepared some strong password ideas to keep you one step ahead of hackers.
- What is considered a weak password?
- The most common password-cracking techniques
- How to create a strong password
- Top 5 strong password ideas
What is considered a weak password?
Passwords consisting of sequential numbers and letters, such as asdf or 111111, are considered weak — hackers can crack them in a snap.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Center revealed that ‘123456’ was the most popular password in the UK, followed by ‘qwerty’ and ‘password’. People also used movie characters (Batman and Superman), musicians (Eminem, 50 Cent, and Blink182), and even football clubs (Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal) as their passwords, which is also a bad idea.
The most common password-cracking techniques
Brute force attack
In a brute force attack, a hacker uses software that tries every possible combination to find the right one. An 8-character password consisting of capital and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters can be cracked in 2 hours. But it will take months or even years if the password is complex.
While a brute force attack tries various combinations of special characters, numbers, and letters, in a dictionary attack, a program goes through a prearranged list of words. If your password can be found in a dictionary, specialized software can easily crack it.
Phishing is a social engineering method to trick people into revealing their credentials. Phishing attacks often use email services as a medium: hackers send emails, pretending to be reputable sources and refer users to fake login pages.
Credential recycling has nothing to do with saving the environment, as the name might suggest. It collects usernames and passwords used in other attacks and tries them on other platforms. As people often use the same password for all their accounts, this method often proves successful.
How to create a strong password
The longer your password is, the better. Many websites ask to create 8-character passwords, but we recommend going for no less than 15 characters.
Avoid ties to your personal information, such as your name, surname, date of birth, etc.
Use numbers, symbols, capital as well as lower-case letters in random order.
Don’t use sequential letters and numbers.
Avoid substitution: kangaroo and [email protected]@r00 are equally weak passwords, and any brute force attack can crack them.
Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
You can check your password strength and if it has been exposed in any data breaches with our password security tool.
Top 5 strong password ideas
1. Create your own formula
Create a formula which will help you remember the password. For example, you can take any phrase and replace every letter with the next one in the alphabet:
cucumbers are tasty -> dvdvncfst bsf ubtuz
Or you can take the first letter from every line of your favorite song. This way, “Shine on you crazy diamond” by Pink Floyd turns into:
Sounds like gibberish? That’s what we want. Just don’t forget to add special characters and numbers to make it even more complicated.
2. Play with the vowels
This one is much easier to implement: take any phrase and replace one vowel with another (for example, ‘a’ with ‘e’). Always use random phrases instead of something meaningful:
A car is floating in a pan -> e cer is floeting in e pen
Spaces are also allowed in passwords, and we highly encourage you to use them.
3. Shorten each word
Create a phrase and delete the first three letters in every word (in some cases you will delete the whole word, but that’s fine):
Laptop running free in the jungle -> top ning e gle
4. Mix the codes of your favorite countries
This one is the most fun of all the password ideas. Make a list of the ISO codes of your favorite countries and put them together:
Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan -> mex gbr fra deu jpn
5. Use a password manager
If you don’t want to bother yourself with creating and remembering random phrases, use a password manager, such as NordPass. It’s an easy-to-use app that generates strong passwords, securely stores them, and autofills online forms.
You can add as many passwords as you need and access them from any device. This way, you’ll get a unique password for every account without the risk of forgetting it.