Passphrases – Complexity without Confusion

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Each week the UC IT Blog will feature a cyber security message by UC security and policy personnel.

Posted by Greg Fellin, IT Policy Coordinator, UCM. We all know that having a strong password is a good idea, and that a more complex password is stronger than a simple one. But the pitfall of this is trying to remember a complex password, especially when we are expected to remember so many different ones. This frustration leads to writing them down somewhere. Which is a lot like leaving your house key under your doormat.

Try these simple tips:

  • Instead of a random 20 character password, use a simple phrase equal in length. (e.g., “MyMomIsSuperAwesome!”)
  • Adding special characters doesn’t necessarily mean replacing letters. Instead try adding punctuation, underscores, or spaces (for websites that allow them) to your passphrases.
  • Don’t allow your browser to save your passwords. (Anyone can view your saved passwords by looking in your browser settings!)
  • Don’t use the same password for sensitive information as you do for online shopping.
  • Always log out of website when you are done, and never click the “Remember Me” or “Keep Me Logged In” button.

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