Password Security 101

password security 101 by Tyson Acosta, Support Services Specialist

Our passwords are often what we most love to hate. Changing a password is never fun, and keeping track of our passwords isn’t always easy. Let’s face it, it’s frustrating. Luckily, there are tips and tricks we can use to assist us with creating strong and secure passwords, which are still easy to remember. First, let’s go over some rules for greater password security.


When you create a password always make sure to use a combination of upper case letters, lower case letters , special characters (i.e. #, @, &), and numbers. By adding these characters, or ideally, substituting them for letters, you greatly increase the difficulty of compromising your password. Did you know that just by adding an upper case letter, it makes an eight-character password approximately 77 times as secure? Imagine if you add in the special characters and numbers!


Always make sure your password is at least eight characters long, and we encourage you to go up to 12. The longer the password is, the harder, and longer, it takes to crack. Remember, hackers don’t go into crime because they want to work hard, they want the easy road. The harder something will be to crack, the less likely they will be interested in trying.


Never use the exact same password for all of your systems. If someone does manage to figure out your password, you want to be comfortable knowing they will only have access to one system, and not everything.


Never, ever share your password with anyone. Even the most secure password is easily compromised, once more than one person knows it. Did you know that 20% of fraud is committed by someone the victim knows?


Following these rules will make your password difficult to crack, and will go a long way in keeping your data secure. However, it can make remembering it difficult, especially after that long vacation. So, I would like to introduce you to the passphrase. Sometimes people use the words “passphrase” and “password” interchangeably. However, they are different. Rather than using a single word, and substituting special characters, you make up a series of, seemingly, unrelated words. Hackers have written programs that mimic the way we think. They know common words, and are able to crack passwords through trial and error.

Passphrases greatly increase the difficulty for this type of software. To create a passphrase think up a short, silly story: “The buffalo drove the truck to the store.” To create a passphrase from this you simply select words, and string them together, and make a few substitutions: BuffaloTruckSt0re! While it may seem silly, it is incredibly easy to remember, so long as you remember the story. Your stories can be anything you want, just make sure it’s something easy to visualize, and sticks in your head.

Data security is one of the important things for all of us to keep in mind. It is how we make sure our identity, and finances are kept confidential, and how we can help keep company data secure. Never underestimate the value of using strong passwords.