Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

A word on Passwords, choosing a strong password for whatever you may use it for.

What makes a good password? Lets start by looking at the common methods of password cracking, this is what hackers will do to figure out your password.
I'm not going into a lot of detail here, just we'll just throw out the 2 most common methods.
Brute-force. Brute-force is just what it sounds like, a program will try every combination of letters, numbers, and characters possible. No password is safe from this, brute-forcing will crack any password no matter what, lucky for us, this takes a lot of time. For passwords with only letters, there are 26 possibilities for each letter in the password, so for a 4 letter password, there are 456,976 possible combinations off letters. for 8 letter passwords, there are 208,827,064,576 possibilities! So choosing a long password is your best defense against brute-forcing. Usually 8 to 12 characters long, using numbers letters and symbols is your best bet.
Wordlist attack. A wordlist attack is just what it sounds like. There are lists on the internet for sale, some for free, that contain thousands upon thousands of words, from many languages, containing common passwords, and the good lists have every word in the dictionary (and not just the english one) just for good measure. A program takes that list, and tries every word in it as your password. So obviously using any word in any dictionary for your password is out of the question. Even if you have numbers in it, some programs will try every word several times with a few numbers at the end. So many people use passwords that are common words, and they think they are secure because they put 2 or 3 numbers at the end. Please protect yourself and make good strong passwords!
Summary: the best passwords to use have the following qualities: 8 to 12 characters long include upper and lower case letters include numbers, letters and at least one symbol ( ie ! @ # $ % etc) do not end in letters ( ie money#man12 is bad, mo#neym12an is better) are not in any dictionary
A good password is hard to remember sometimes, so write it down in a safe place until you memorize it, then destroy the hard copy.
The very best passwords are simply random, no one will ever guess them based on information they know about you. example:
kdHk^83%kdGH.9lh
Now thats a great password!

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1. Avoid Predictable Password Formulas The biggest problem is we're all padding our passwords the same way (partly because most companies limit your password length and require certain types of characters). When required to use mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols, most of us:
  • Use a name, place, or common word as the seed, e.g., "fido" (Women tend to use personal names and men tend to use hobbies)
  • Capitalize the first letter: "Fido"
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  • Add one of the most common symbols (~, !, @, #, $, %, &, ?) at the end: "Fido1!"
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Other clever obfuscation techniques, such as shifting keys to the left or right or using other keyboard patterns are also now sniffed out by hacking tools. As one commenter wrote in the Ars Technica article, hackers use keyword walk generators to emulate millions of keyboard patterns.
The solution: Don't do what everyone else is doing. Avoid the patterns above and remember the basics: don't use a single dictionary word, names, or dates in your password; use a mix of character types (including spaces); and make your passwords as long as possible. If you have a template for how you create memorable passwords, it's only secure if no one else is using that rule. (Check out IT security pro Mark Burnett's collection of the top 10,000 most common passwords, which he says represents 99.8% of all user passwords from leaked databases, or this list of 500 most common passwords in one page.)
2. Use Truly Random Passwords Use multiple unrelated words for your strong, long password: Using a passphrase is more secure and more memorable than complicated but shorter passwords, as web comic Xkcd pointed last year. Longer and simpler passwords trump shorter and more complex ones-but only if the words you use are truly random. If you're using a common quote or saying for your passphrase, you're a target, because hackers' dictionaries include common quotes, phrases, titles, and lyrics-and they can easily employ rules to use just the first letter of each word or other similar pattern. "To be or not to be" and "2b30rn0t2b3" and "tbontb" might all very well take just seconds to crack thanks to fast algorithms, so make your passphrase truly unique and random. (The Xkcd password generator can pick four random words for you.)
The best option is to use a password generator and manager: While the passphrase approach might be good for, say, your computer login or the few cases you need to remember your password, the best option is to generate a truly random, long, and complex password. This avoids the problem of easily cracked patterns and word lists. LastPass, KeePass, or 1Password can all generate a random password for you. See how to build a nearly hack-proof password system with LastPass for detailed instructions. Remember, the only secure password is the one you can't remember.
3. Use a Unique Password for Each Site No matter what passwords you choose or create, this is the most important security strategy of all: Use a different password for each site. This limits the damage that can be done if/when there's a security breach-if your password is compromised on one site, at least all your other accounts are protected.

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