Thursday, September 22, 2011


    This excerpt was part of our internet carrier, Fairpoint Communications' newsletter, today.  I thought it was very informative and helpful in creating passwords and checking to see if they are difficult for hackers to decode.  ( I not only add things like this to my blog because I think they might be helpful to others, but also so that I can find them again when I need them.  I have added several posts like this that I wanted to remember since I began blogging.  This practice is so much more efficient than printing the info and trying to decide where to file it and then trying to remember where I filed it.  Do you ever have that problem?)

This Month's FAQ – What Are The Characteristics Of Strong Passwords?
Question: I have to come up with new passwords on a regular basis and feel like I'm just guessing at what characters to use. I could use some advice. What are the characteristics of strong passwords?

Strong PasswordsAnswer: You're smart to be concerned about your passwords. Using automated programs that target thousands of computers simultaneously, hackers can quickly crack many simple passwords and break into online accounts. Once they sign in as you, they may change the password, locking you out of your own account.

Use these strategies to strengthen your passwords for increased online security:
  • Passwords should be at least 12 characters. Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute learned that eight-character passwords can be cracked in about two hours, but adding just four additional keystrokes to a password could raise that to a theoretical 17,000 years.
  • Combine letters, numbers, and symbols. The greater variety of characters in your password, the harder it is to crack. Choose from all the symbols on the keyboard, not just letters and numbers; consider using symbols such as &, >, # or @.
  • Avoid sequences or repeated characters. Passwords such as "12345678" or "222222" are weak passwords.
  • Don't use dictionary words. Hackers use sophisticated tools that can rapidly guess passwords based on words in multiple dictionaries, including words spelled backwards, common misspellings, and substitutions.
  • Use a sentence as the starting point. While complicated passwords are safer, they're also harder to remember. To make it easier, think of a memorable sentence, take the first letter of each word, mix up lowercase and uppercase, and replace some letters with numbers and symbols.
Once you've created a new password, find out how strong it is by visiting Microsoft's Password Checker at It will instantly rate your password from Weak to Best. If yours doesn't rate well, it's back to the drawing board. Keep testing new passwords until you find one that rates highly.

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