Creating a password can be such a drag. Every time I was trying to figure out what jumble of characters, numbers, and symbols to use, I thought to myself, "I may as well just put in 'Password1234!' so I can actually remember it this time."
It can be a pain, but coming up with a strong password to use on important online accounts is vital to keep hackers from sneaking their way in to steal your private information. I get it, but many of us still stick to the simple stuff by adding a capital letter and throwing in a "!" at the end because they're easier to remember.
However, as recent studies have shown, simple passwords can be cracked in as little as 1 second via brute force attacks. In fact, usual culprits like "123456," "qwerty," "password," and more take just 0.3 seconds. Yikes. That's where the best password managers come in, which create, save, and secure your credentials — whether it be on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone — for multiple online accounts.
Thing is, you're still going to need at least one master password. What's more, if you don't have a password manager, it can be tricky to know if your newly created password is truly unbreakable and if you can keep it in your noggin.
While Google is offering a passwordless future, along with Apple's Passkey helping to stop phishing attacks and LastPass bringing passwordless logins, many of us still need a password to log in to various accounts. If you are in need of a strong password, check out this simple yet effective trick below.
How to create a strong password
There are a few rules to follow when setting up a strong password. This includes using uppercase and lowercase letters, using numbers and special characters, making sure it doesn't contain personal information, and making it quite lengthy (around 12 characters).
Most of us will consider ourselves password savvy, but it’s a good idea to take these tips on board when you’re planning to create one password to rule them all. Speaking of that obvious Lord of the Rings reference, it’s important to find a connection between your assortment of characters and something you care about — and, even more importantly, make it obscure. “IHeartLOTR!” isn’t what we’re going for here.
Instead of using something generic, take a quote or passage that’s memorable to you but completely random to others, then mix it up to your liking. For instance, take this famed quote from J. R. R. Tolkien:
“One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them” - J. R. R. Tolkien
Change “One” into numerical characters and take the first letters from each word and you’ll get this: “1rtrta,ortft,1rtbta,aitdbt-J.R.R.T”. Here, you have alphabetical characters, numerals, and symbols all wrapped up in a quote you’ll remember.
Of course, you don't have to make it that long. So, let's shorten it down a bit.
“One ring to rule them all" - J. R. R. Tolkien
Applying the same method as before, you'll get: “1rtrta-J.R.R.T”. To test its strength, I put this through a password checker. How long does it take to crack that password through a brute force attack? 8 billion years. No joke. Hackers don't have that kind of time on their hands.
This is just a simple example that can be made even shorter or filled to the brim with other symbols you see fit. The idea is to take something that will stick in your mind and turn it into an uncrackable code. Needless to say, it doesn't need to be a quote from a movie, and you can also change it up with words only you will remember.
Commonly hacked passwords
This year, a study revealed the most hacked passwords based on 100,000 breached passwords worldwide. Putting them in categories, it turns out pet names and terms of endearment were the most commonly used passwords that threat actors hacked.
The study showed that "Love" (1,492), "Baby" (417), and "Angel" (330) are the three top used passwords around the world. The names category also took the spotlight, with the most frequently hacked names being "Sam" (313), "Anna" (300), and "Alex" (240). You'll also want to stay clear of using "Dog" (345) or "Cat" (265) in your passwords.
While certain words can be a great way to easily remember your password, some that may seem random are still easy to crack. This is why using a jumble of letters and numbers instead can be even more efficient, especially if they are easy to remember.
All in all, it's a good idea to stay away from "password1234!" and anything like it. If you're thinking about securing your online accounts even further, find out how to do 2FA right.
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Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.