How Secure are Your Passwords?

While you likely find assigning passwords to students an annoyance, it’s important to remember why creating strong passwords is important. A strong password is your first line of defense against intruders and imposters. It’s also important to understand how bad most passwords really are.

Passwords can be cracked in a variety of different ways, so it’s always a best practice to create the strongest passwords possible. Here are some characteristics of weak, and even poor, passwords that can lead to a compromised account or network.

  • A name in any form: first, middle, last or maiden names; your name spelled backwards, a nickname or initials.
  • A user ID or your user ID spelled backwards.
  • Part of a user ID or name.
  • Any common name, such as Joe.
  • The name of a close relative, friend or pet.
  • A phone number, office number or address.
  • A birthday or anniversary date.
  • Simple variations of names or words (even foreign words), simple patterns, famous equations or well-known values.
  • License plate numbers, social security numbers or any all-numeral password.
  • Names from popular culture (e.g.: Beatles, Spiderman, etc.).
  • Any password that is provided as an example.
  • Permutations of a username.
  • Family or pet birth dates.
  • Family or pet names or acronyms built from them.
  • Hobbies or activities.
  • Work or school-related information or work/school acquaintances.
  • Names of places visited or worked.
  • Common words from dictionaries, including foreign languages.
  • Common dictionary word permutations.
  • Names or types of favorite objects.
  • All digits or all the same letter or letter sequences found on keyboards.
  • A list of the top 10,000 most common passwords used that are easily hacked.

Do you want to know roughly how strong your password is? Here’s a link to an educational tool that estimates how long a standard desktop computer would take to crack your password provided the thief had the encrypted version of your password.

Just type in your password, or if you’re paranoid, a password similar to your own, and see how good/bad it is. You might be surprised by the results. The website is safe and runs entirely within your web browser on your computer.