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5 Strong Password Ideas to Boost Your Security

Niall Condon
UX Writer

While you only need one key to lock your apartment door, things are much more complicated in the digital world. People often have dozens of accounts to protect. Since building a unique password can be frustrating, we have prepared some ideas and suggestions for strong passwords to keep you one step ahead of hackers.

What is considered a weak password?

Weak passwords consist of sequential letters or numbers, are less than eight characters, or use common words and phrases. The most popular passwords are well-known by hackers and are usually what they try first.

According to NordPass’ annual top 200 most common passwords list, 123456 and password are the most commonly used and vulnerable passwords. Another example of a weak password would be using the name of a fictional character like Superman, Batman, or Joker. Check out the list to find more fun facts about the most common passwords around the world.

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 eight-character password consisting of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters can be cracked in just two hours. Good passwords will take months or even years, depending on their uniqueness and complexity.

Dictionary attack

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

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 stuffing

Credential stuffing is a popular method for hackers to gain access by collecting usernames and passwords used in previous attacks and trying them on other platforms. This method often proves successful, because people tend to use the same password for all their accounts.

Keylogging

Keylogging involves a hacker forcing malware onto the victim’s device. A keylogger can then track the user’s keystrokes and device activity, depending on the software and the device. This can include copied and pasted data, phone calls, location, and screenshots. With this information, hackers can easily access passwords and other sensitive information, allowing them to launch further attacks on the individual or data from their place of work.

How to create a strong password

  • The longer your password is, the better. Many websites ask you to create eight-character passwords, but we recommend going for at least 15 characters.

  • Avoid ties to your personal information, such as your name, surname, or date of birth.

  • Use numbers, symbols, and upper- and lowercase letters in random order.

  • Don’t use sequential letters and numbers.

  • Avoid substitution: kangaroo and [email protected]@r00 are both equally weak passwords, and a brute-force attack can easily crack them.

  • Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.

With our free password security tool, you can check your password strength and if it has been exposed in any data breaches.

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Top 5 strong password ideas

Below are some suggestions and password examples to help protect your data and accounts from being hacked and taken over. We’ve also included some formulas you can try yourself, with passphrase examples. However, we highly recommend you don’t use these passwords for your accounts!

1. Shorten each word

Think of a phrase and remove the first three letters of each word (in some cases, you’ll delete full words, but that’s fine):

Laptop running free in the jungle -> top ning e gle

Sounds like gibberish? That’s what we want. Just don’t forget to add special characters and numbers to make it more complicated. It would take 94,000 years to crack this password.

2. Create your own formula

Create a formula that will help you remember the password. For example, you can take a phrase and replace every letter with the next one in the alphabet:

cucumbers are tasty -> dvdvncfst bsf ubtuz

Another clever way of creating strong passwords is to turn song lyrics into acronyms. This means using only the first letter of each line of your favorite song.

So, “Shine on you crazy diamond” by Pink Floyd becomes rsnsybccystswrcc.

The time needed to crack this password is 746 million years.

3. Play with the vowels

This one is much easier to implement and memorize: take a random nonsensical phrase and replace one vowel with another (for example, “a” with “e”):

A car is floating in a pan -> e cer is floeting in e pen

Don’t forget – spaces are allowed in passwords, and we highly encourage you to use them. The combination of having spaces and switching the vowels around means the above password would take 583 million trillion years to crack.

4. Mix the codes of your favorite countries

This one is quite fun and easy to memorize. You will always generate good passwords with this method. Simply make a list of the ISO codes of your favorite countries and put them together:

Mexico, Ireland, France, Germany, Japan -> mex ire fra deu jpn

You wouldn’t think so, but a hacker would require a staggering 6 thousand trillion years to crack this password!

5. Use a password manager

If you don’t want to bother creating and remembering random phrases, use a password manager, such as NordPass. It’s an easy-to-use app that lets you generate strong, unique passwords and securely store them. You can also easily use NordPass to autofill online forms and fields.

You can add as many passwords as you need and access them from any device. This way, you’ll get a unique password for each account without the risk of forgetting it. Now you can use a special code and get an additional month of NordPass Premium for free when you purchase a two-year plan.

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