Ian Moulster's blog

A Microsoft employee translating Microsoft technology into plain English

How to make your passwords secure

How to make your passwords secure

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With the recent news of email accounts being hacked there seems to be plenty of advice floating around for avoiding falling victim to scams and other attacks. One of the pieces of advice is to use a strong password .Even though there’s no evidence that would have helped in the recently-reported instances a strong password is definitely a good weapon to have in your security arsenal along with a solid antivirus product, firewall, a good dose of scepticism, a mistrust of links in emails, and common sense.

I thought it worth sharing some ideas of how to ensure that your passwords are secure as most people – me included – struggle to remember passwords that conform to the general advice of “strong” passwords: Mixture of upper and lower case, mixture of letters and numbers and even punctuation, at least 6 characters long and preferably longer, should not be made up of words you’d find in a dictionary.

So a strong password might be “ihbciaS1gafoa103” for example. Not particularly memorable? Well actually it might be. If you’re trying to think of a good password for your Hotmail account, think of a song with the word “hot” in the title. How about “Hot Blooded” by Foreigner (younger people are saying “who?” at this stage).

The first line of Hot Blooded is “I’m hot blooded, check it and see, I got a fever of a hundred and three”.

Now take a look at that password again. I’ve taken the first letter of each word of that first line, used an upper case letter on the word that’s stressed in the line (“see”), and the number 1 for “I” the second time it’s used in the sentence, and “103” for “hundred and three”.

It’s actually pretty easy to remember now, even if you have to sing it to yourself in your head to remember it. And believe me, that’s definitely a strong password.

What do you reckon? Does this work for you? And other ideas you’d like to share?

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  • strong passwords don't work worth crap if its phised!

  • Yes thanks Tonyr, I think I did say that though

  • LOL this is a great post and very good advice. Don't get me wrong. But I have to laugh because I know there's gonna be at least one guy that sets his password to ihbciaS1gafoa103.

  • You are so right :-)

    You just know it will happen

  • Personally, I find stringing a few car registration plates (I live in the UK, so our plates are alphanumeric) together with a mix of upper case and lower case can provide a fairly secure password...

  • I hadn't thought of that, nice idea

  • Still much too hard to remember and to type correctly. I find passphrases much more easier to remember, and they definitely are secure.

    Not many people actually are aware of using passphrases instead of passwords though.

  • That is GEnius mate!

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  • OMG when I type my password in here it comes up like ************. Thats just weird

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