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.