Many users use passwords that are too short and too simple to keep services and applications secure, or give in to the impulse to use the same password for everything. Both are fatal, because it makes it easy for criminals to gain access much too quickly.
How to find a strong password
- Come up with a sentence that is easy for you to remember. Pluto may not be a planet anymore, but many remember the mnemonic from their school days:
My very educated mother just served us nine pickles.
- Write down the first letters of the words in the sentence:
- Start with the year of your birth, wedding, or graduation:
- Add a special character to the end:
- That could now become the basis for your passwords for different services. Add about three letters representing the service or application that you need the password for to the beginning of the password. In other words, to secure your Outlook account, use “out”, and for your Deutsche Telekom login, use “tel”.
Passwords are all about length
Hackers use special programs that automatically try out combinations of letters and numbers. This is why the length and number of character combinations is crucial, just as we learned in math class.
A recent PC can easily generate more than two billion codes per second. A password that comprises only seven lowercase letters yields 267 possible passwords. There are 26 letters that can be combined with all the other 26 letters in any place in the password. That adds up to over eight billion combinations. To find the right one, the attacker’s system would only need four to five seconds.
If the password has 13 characters and uses both uppercase and lowercase letters and numerals, there are 6213 possible combinations (26 lowercase letters, 26 uppercase letters, and ten numerals). The system would take more than three million years to calculate all the possible passwords!