Best Practices for Passwords

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Passwords are annoying. These days we need a password for every aspect of our lives, and an effective password can be difficult to create. Once we’ve come up with a password, we can be reluctant to update it for months, even years.

For a long time, some have argued for the need for longer passwords over short, complex ones. The idea behind this argument is that short passwords are far easier to crack. Have you ever considered using a passphrase for your password? If you haven’t, now may be the time to consider it.

What is a passphrase?


A passphrase is a sequence of words or other text used to control access to a computer system, program, or data. A passphrase is similar to a password in usage but is longer, giving it added security.

Creating a Passphrase


When creating a passphrase, you simply choose a phrase or sentence instead of a word or set of characters. Most password systems don’t allow the space character, so you’ll typically capitalize the first letter of each word instead. The key to creating a strong passphrase for a given website is to use something that’s meaningful to you but that wouldn’t be easily guessed.

Overcoming a Character Limit


Occasionally, you’ll find a site whose password length limit makes using a passphrase tough. In that case you might consider boiling down the passphrase to just the first letter from each word, retaining any digits or special characters.

Recommended Best Practices


Okay, now that you have considered using a passphrase for your password, let’s review some best practices you should follow regarding passwords.

  • Thanks John. Great tips!! I use a utility – 1Password – it’s great for generating (and then stores) insanely difficult passwords. It saves me from remembering for each site.. and it’s available cross-platform.. windows, mac, iphone, android.. Check it out (and by the way, I don’t work for the company – I’m just a fan of the convenience). Cheers.