In today's electronic and Internet connected world, passwords are an everyday part of life. However, how many of you are using a password that is simple and easy to guess? Unfortunately the majority of  people still use a simple password using either numbers or letters that can be cracked using most of the common password cracking utilities on the net. However, what's the alternative? I would guess between email accounts, credit cards, banking info, online sites, and other accounts that most people have between 10 - 30 accounts or more that require passwords to access. If you use a separate password for each account, how are you going to be able to remember all of them?

What Makes a Good Password

First let's discuss what makes a good password.

  • Length, the longer the password the better. Generally, at least 8 characters or more. 
  • A mix of uppercase and lowercase letters
  • A mix of numbers and special characters
  • Something that cannot be easily guessed if I know you. Dont use birthdates, zip codes, phone numbers, first names of children, pets, etc.
  • Something that is not found in a dictionary

Creating a Good Base Password

First create a base word to work from.

  • Take a random bunch of characters, letters, numbers, special characters and create a base word.
  • Replace letters in a word with numbers or special characters. For instance, the word "password", becomes P@s$w0rd
  • Take a sentence or easily remembered phrase and use the first letters of each word to form a base word. Example:. "Now is the Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid of Their Country" becomes Nittfagmtcttaotc
  • Take a dictionary word and spell it in reverse. Example: House becomes Esuoh
Now take your base word and make sure it follows the rules above for a good password. For example, House can become E$u0h with some substitution but its not long enough. So we add characters to the front and back of it to make it longer. In this case, you could add the month and year to it and be able to change the password each month so its more easily remembered. For January 2012, the password becomes:

12E$u0hJan - A ten letter password with a mix of numbers, letters (both uppercase and lowercase) and special characters. This fits all the requirements of a good password. On February 1st, change the password to 12E$u0hFeb and so on. Every so often you can start with another base word and start the whole process again.

The key is making the password random enough that no one could guess it or use a dictionary attack to crack it.

How to Make the Password Even Harder to Crack

Here are a few more ideas for making your password even tougher to crack.

  • Don't leave two of the same letter together in the sequence, For instance, the word password has to s's in sequence, Substitution something for at least one of the letters.
  • Don't use common substitutions, always using ! for l, or @ for A
  • Shift your fingers on the keyboard one space over or back and type your baseword, password becomes ]sddeptf with my fingers shifted to the right one spot on the keyboard.
Although, there are many more options to create a secure, remembered password, I hope these ideas give you the ability to become creative when choosing a password, instead of using a simple one in the future.

Using Your Base Password for Multiple Accounts

I don't pretend to think that people are going to use 30 completely different password for 30 accounts, but you could use your base password and add a few characters to it for the particular account. For example, my base word above 12E$u0hJan could be Ya12E$u0hJan for a Yahoo account, or CB12E$u0hJan for a Citibank credit card, etc. There are numerous possibilities.

Testing Your Password Strength

Some passwords are stronger than others, if you would like to test the strength of your password, visit Password Meter, an online password tester.

Where to Save Passwords if You Can't Remember Them

One of the first things people will tell you is not to write your password down and keep it near the computer. I have seen way too many customers that keep their passwords on a note card underneath the keyboard or on a post-it note on their monitor. Although this is convenient, its not the safest place for a password list. If you have to keep a list of passwords close, why not keep it in your wallet or purse. Although these could be stolen, along with your bank cards, credit cards and such its still a safer place than underneath the keyboard. Storing a password list in a safety deposit box is also a good idea. You may even want to store your password list on your phone or PDA - as long as the list is secured and cannot be read by just anyone.

A better alternative though is to use a Password Manager program to keep a secured, encrypted copy of your password on your computer so they are ready to access when you need them. These password managers generally have a Master password to secure them, so you really only need to remember one password to have all your passwords accessible. Here are a list of my favorite password manager programs.

  • Roboform - one of the originals and a very good one. Now with Roboform Everywhere, you can access your passwords on any computer you need to. Roboform also has a password generator to create a random password for you.
  • Passter - web app - A great online application that secures your passwords and makes them available to you. Works with Google Chrome as well.
  • KeePass - an open source app that runs on almost any platform. Can also be used with online storage providers like Dropbox to allow your passwords to be access anywhere.
There are many other password managers, but the ones above are my favorites.

I hope this article gave you a better understanding of passwords and the need for a strong password for your online accounts.
Written by Mark Hasting

Links to Other Important Information

Support for Windows XP and Windows Vista without latest service packs ends in 2010

How to Fix 500 Internal Server Error in PHP 5.4 script

Computer shows Stop error and Continously Reboots after SP3 installed.

Product Key Does Not Match Current Windows SKU Error

Review of FastAgain PC Booster and How to Uninstall it

How to Remove MSBLAST.EXE worm

How to Remove Content Advisor Password in Internet Explorer

How to Fix Google Chrome not Opening Web Pages or Settingsnew

How to Remove Incredimail Automatically

How to Fix Problem of Limited or No Connectivity After installing Windows XP Service Pack 2

How to Recover From a Corrupted Registry in Windows XP

How to Speed Up Windows Boot Time

Acer ERecovery Service is Not Available

Acer Recovery CD Restore Failed Reason: 0xf0000051

How to Fix Problem with No Active Mixer Devices Available in Windows XP

Parents Guide to - a report every parent should read

Save and Restore Desktop Layout of Icons

What is Windows Genuine Advantage and How to Overcome Problems With It

Change Forgotten Administrator Password in Windows XP/2000/Vista

Not Enough Server Storage Error When Connecting to Computer on Network

Installing Windows Vista Upgrade on a Blank Hard Drive

How to Delete Your Windows Vista Logon Password

Remove Unwanted Icons from the Windows Vista Welcome Center

Cannot Connect to Network Printer with Windows Vista

How to Wipe, Delete, Degauss, and Destroy Data on a Hard Drive

Fixing RTHDCPL.EXE - Illegal System DLL Relocation Error in Windows XP

How to Fix Blank or Missing Title Bar in IE9

Unable to Open New Tab in IE9 - Spinning Favicon

Fix 404 Errors for /apple-touch-icon-precomposed.png and /apple-touch-icon.png

What is the Config.Msi folder and Can I Delete It?

Flash Player Installation Issues

How to Set Yahoo Mail as your Default Email Program

Unknown File in Winsock LSP - NWPROVAU.DLL - Can it be Removed?

How to Delete a Service in Windows Vista

How to Disable the On-Screen Keyboard in Windows Vista

Make Disk Cleanup Run Faster

What is CTFMON.EXE and How Can I Remove It

How to Export MSN Favorites to Internet Explorer

How to Fix Registry Editing Has Been Disabled By Your Administrator Error

How to Change Default Editor in Windows and Fax Viewer

How to Fix Problem when Windows Security Center reports multiple antivirus programs installed

How to Fix Problem when Windows Updates will download but will not install

How to Fix Problem when Windows Automatic Updates Service wont Start

Cannot Download Files With Internet Explorer

How to Keep Your Computer Up-to-Date

How to Fix the Prompt for Click to Run an ActiveX Control on this webpage

How to Remove "This Page Contains Both Secure and NonSecure Items" Warning Message

How to Fix Problem with Blank Add/Remove Control Panel

How to Fix Windows Vista Update Error 80244019

Troubleshooting An Error Occurred During Directory Enumeration

How to View and Decipher Minidump files created by Blue Screen error messages

How to Fix BLService Error on HP Computer in Vista

Google Adsense Hijacking - How to Respond

Windows Defrag Does Not Complete

Review of BigString Recallable Email

Fix Incorrect Time Stamp on Hotmail Messages

Deleting or Editing Typed URLs in the Internet Explorer Address Bar

Belarc Advisor - Quick Computer Inventory Software

How to Get Out of Full Screen Mode in Internet Explorer

How to Correct Missing "Copy to CD" option in My Pictures Tasks

How to Fix Code 39 error with CD or DVD Drive

How to Fix Problems When Windows Installer Popups Error With Missing .MSI Files

How to Fix Problems When Network Setup Wizard and Network Connections Won't Open

How to Fix Problems with Windows Help Errors

How to Delete Individual Entries from Run Command History

Foxit - Adobe Reader Alternative

How to Fix Autochk Program Not Found error

Difference between Master/Slave and Cable Select on a Hard Drive

How to Use Microsoft SyncToy to backup your important files

How to Delete Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, and History files

Review of PCDecrapifer Software Removal Tool

How to Fix Security Flaw in Adobe Reader

Computer Speakers Sound like Chipmunks

How to SVCHOST.EXE Application Error 0x745f2780

Troubleshooting the Unmountable Boot Volume Error in Windows XP

How to Disable, Uninstall, and Remove Windows Messenger instant messaging from Windows XP

How to Remove Windows Messenger in Windows XP

Free DVD Decoder Software and Help

Free CD Burning Software and Help

How to Use Remote Desktop to Access Multiple Computer on Your LAN

HijackThis Tutorial for removing Spyware

Review of Adsense Detective, Getting Stats and Results from Adsense

How to Disable System Restore in Windows ME or Windows XP

How to Uninstall Internet Explorer 7

How to Install NetBEUI in Windows XP

What is the KB891711.exe file in Windows 98 or Windows ME?

How to Troubleshoot and Solve USB Device Error Code 10

Spooler Subsystem App has encountered a problem and needs to close Error and How to Fix it

How to Fix Problem opening Microsoft Outlook

How to Disable News Headlines in Netscape

How to Bring Back Missing Folders in Netscape Communicator

How to Fix Access Denied Error when Using MSCONFIG

How to Fix HPQKBFiltr.Sys Keylogger Error in Kaspersky Antivirus

How to Backup and Restore Outlook Express Mail, Address Book, Blocked Senders List and other Settings

How to Fix Error 501 Permission Denied when changing fonts in Outlook Express

What is the Tilde (~) File on my Desktop?

What is the thumbs.db file and can I remove it

Password is Not Saved in Outlook Express or Outlook in Windows XP

Allow Viewing of Attachments in Outlook Express 6

How to Fix Problem of No Spell Check in Outlook Express

How to Fix Problems Viewing or Accessing Secure Web Sites

How to Start or Boot Windows into Safe Mode

What is the Winmail.dat file attached to emails?

How to Correct Unreadable Fonts in Norton Antivirus or Norton Systemworks

How to correct issue with No Visible Menu Bar or Tabs in Windows XP Task Manager

How Disable/Enable the Windows XP Welcome Screen

How to Fix RTLGINA2.DLL error with Windows XP Welcome Screen and Netgear WG111

How to Fix Windows Update Error 0x80070420

PopUp Ad Removal Software and Help

Review of ErrorNuker program to identify and fix problems with the Windows Registry

Spyware and Adware Removal Help

Review of Netflix Online DVD Rental

Recommended Software for PC Hell Visitors