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Using a Passphrase Instead of Password to Increase Security

by Jason Schofield on March 13, 2019

 hacker

 

Cyber crime is at an all time high, with more complex tactics being deployed to gain access to your information. What is even harder, is coming up with complex passwords which are easy to remember for every day use to help protect against unauthorized access to your accounts. The best method to increase security while having a password that is easy to remember is by forgetting about passwords, and utilizing passphrases.

 

What is a passphrase and how does it differ from a password?

A passphrase, simply put, is a password which is written out like a sentence. A passphrase then becomes longer, more complex and easier to remember, compared to a password. 

Why should I use a passphrase instead of a random string of characters in a password?

Computer algorithms designed for cracking passwords have been trained extensively for cracking passwords designed to meet the average password requirements. On average, a password contains about 10 characters and is a combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers. By increasing the length of a password by making a passphrase, you significantly increase the number of possible combinations in which the computer algorithm needs to guess. 

For example:

 

 Password Time to Crack
december 18 milliseconds
D3c3mb3r 73 milliseconds
#H*n(.43 59 Years

 

Compared to a passphrase:

 

 Passphrase Time to Crack
What dog came 1st? 11,067 centuries

 

Using a passphrase allows for a more complex password, while making it easy to remember.

 

Tips on choosing a passphrase:

 

1. Add words to create a phrase

Add words together in a way that can be meaningful and memorable to you

whathorsecamefirst

For even more security you may try making it longer

whathorsecamefirstintherace

 

2. Add capitals for emphasis

WhatHorseCameFirstInTheRace

 

3. Add punctuation

WhatHorseCameFirstInTheRace?

 

4. Add spaces to improve security

What Horse Came First In The Race?

 

5. Incorporate numbers to improve security and meet password requirements

What Horse Came 1st In The Race?

 

6. Use random word combinations to further improve security

Brother Sandwich Has 32 & 1/2 Stars!

 

Congratulations! You now have created a complex password that will take centuries for a computer algorithm to crack. In the example provided above, What Horse Came 1st In The Race? would take 18,869,902,902,681,132 centuries to crack.

 

Despite it's complexity against computer algorithms, using a passphrase is not a 100% guarantee and as always, you should remember to update passphrases frequently and avoid using the same passphrase twice.

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