4 tips for strong passwords

Michiel Destoop
February 7, 2017
⏱ 2 min. read

Using online tools also means managing passwords. How do you make your passwords strong and how do you safely share them with your team? Here’s my advice.

safe strong passwords

1. Be original

The best password is the password that hasn't been used anywhere. Unfortunately, people aren't always that smart and prefer the quick and easy way out. 

Top 10 of most used passwords:

1. 123456 6. 12456789
2. password 7. football
3. 12345678 8. 1234
4. qwerty 9. 1234567
5. 12345 10. baseball

 

A hacker will first try out lists with popular and existing passwords. These lists are widely available and are offered for sale in combination with known email addresses.

2. Make your password as long as possible

Agreed: 6ZfwxCs%21 is a strong password, but you won't remember it.

So let's make a strong password that you can actually remember and type. Start off with a sentence of a nursery rhyme such as humptydumptysatonawall. An average home computer will need more than 10.000 centuries to break the code.

how safe is your password
With 'humptydumptysatonawall' you should be safe for a while


The most popular password (123456) can be bruteforced within 1 second. But some hackers also try song and literary texts to retrieve a password. So we need to step up our game. 

Some systems also require uppercase and lowercase letters, or a combination of numbers and special characters. So that's how you can customize your password in HumptyTrumptysatonaM3xicanwall:-) It's long, unique, it has a combination of uppercase and lowercase, a number, special characters … and on top of that, it's easy to remember and type.

Too bad some systems won't allow you to use such long passwords and restrict you to a maximum of 12 characters or s.

3. Never use the same password (and change it regularly)

Hackers often get their hands on a whole list of email addresses and passwords. When you've been using the same password for years, even the strongest password becomes useless. So it's best to create a different password for each and every online service and change it every now and then.

4. Make agreements with your colleagues

What about shared accounts? To access your company Twitter account or an online library with stock photos, you sometimes need to share passwords with your colleagues. Make a list with shared passwords and keep it up to date.

The same holds true for work related personal passwords. A colleague who suddenly leaves the company or dies will takes his passwords with him. Unless a password policy has been agreed on beforehand. 


Bonus: when offering a login for your customers or partners

  • Don't send passwords through email
  • Never store unprotected passwords in a database
  • Change your strong passwords for database, FTP, CMS … regularly
  • Let your users create and edit their passwords themselves
  • Install a SSL certificate so all data passes safely through webserver and browser
  • Offer strong authenticiaton for extra sensitive information, for example with the Google Authenticator

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