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Cybersecurity expert: Tricks for uncrackable passwords

Uncommon dictionary words that are hard to guess that could be added to your password include serendipity, quixotic, and effervescent.

Computer display requiring password access. — Image © Tim Sandle
Computer display requiring password access. — Image © Tim Sandle

It has been estimated that 30 percent of Internet users have been victims of a data breach as a result of having a weak password. In terms of the impact, there are over five billion people using the Internet today, that means one and a half billion have had their data stolen by scammers taking advantage of their bad password.

Trevor Cooke, the online privacy expert at EarthWeb, has told Digital Journal of some key tips to help thwart malicious actors seeking unauthorised access to your sensitive accounts.

Reverse Words or Phrases

By reversing words or phrases in your password, you can add an extra layer of complexity. For instance, instead of using “security,” consider reversing it to “ytiruces” to make your password harder to decipher. This technique makes it harder for attackers to guess your password even if they try common phrases.

Use Acronyms and Abbreviations

Cooke explains: “Consider using acronyms or abbreviations for phrases that are meaningful to you but will not be easily guessable by others.”

For example, you could use the first letter of each word in a memorable phrase or sentence to create a password, so “ILoveToRunEveryDay” could become “IL2RED.” Add symbols and numbers and mix up lower and upper case letters to strengthen your password even more.

Add Misspellings and Substitutions

Introduce intentional misspellings or substitutions of characters into your passwords to increase their complexity. For example, if there’s a word you often misspell, consider using this in your password. This technique adds an extra layer of security by making your password less susceptible to dictionary-based attacks.

Develop A Formulaic Approach

Develop a formula or pattern for creating passwords that you can easily replicate across multiple accounts while still ensuring uniqueness.

Cooke recommends: “For instance, you could combine elements such as your favourite colour, a memorable date, and a special character to generate a series of passwords. By following a consistent formula, you can create strong and memorable passwords for different accounts without sacrificing security.”

Double Up On Numbers

Doubling or even tripling the numbers you include in your password can significantly bolster its strength. For example, if you intend to use the number 5, consider doubling it to 55 or even tripling it to 555 for added security. This technique increases the complexity of your password and makes it more resistant to brute-force attacks.

Utilise Passphrases For Increased Memorability

Consider creating a passphrase by stringing together multiple random words or phrases.

For this Cooke offers: “Passphrases offer increased length and complexity, making them more resilient to brute-force attacks while remaining easier to remember for the user. For example, a passphrase like “purple-umbrella-dragon-forest” is both memorable and secure.”

Additional Passphrase Examples:

  • Gleaming-oceanic-zebra-paradise
  • Stellar-moonlight-cascade-wonder
  • Enchanted-rainforest-serenity-bliss

It is important to ensure not to use words that would work together as a sentence – for example, ‘MyNameIsBeth’ or ‘IAmATeacher’.

Avoid Using Dictionary Words And Common Phrases

Steer clear of using common dictionary words or phrases in your password. Hackers often employ sophisticated algorithms that can swiftly crack passwords based on known words or predictable patterns. Instead, opt for a combination of random characters, numbers, and symbols to create a password that is truly unique and secure.

Cooke advises: “Uncommon dictionary words that are hard to guess that could be added to your password include serendipity, quixotic, and effervescent. The rarer the word, the harder it will be to crack. Combining several rare words will make your password even more secure.”

Incorporate Emojis

To enhance the complexity of your password, consider incorporating emojis. These symbols not only add a unique touch but also increase the difficulty for hackers attempting to crack your password. For example, a password with a smiley face in it is much more resilient than a simple word or phrase.

Cooke suggests: “By incorporating these passphrases and uncommon dictionary words into your password creation process, you can significantly enhance the security of your accounts and protect your sensitive information from cyber threats.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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