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Make your passwords stronger...

Passwords need to be complex enough to discourage guessing but easy enough for you to remember. As computer processors become faster and faster the hackers are taking advantage of better password cracking systems which means we have to shift the way we generate passwords.

It is best to start using 16-20 character password or, better yet, a passphrase to prevent someone from easily guessing it. Really good passphrases should contain a number of character types, letters, numbers, and special characters. Keep them creative and unique to yourself. A passphrase combined with your own "Rules" for substitutions and character insertion makes them easier for you to remember but much harder for anyone or any computer to guess.

Here are a couple of passphrase generation ideas. If you really like cookies, use Snickerdoodles, Coconut Macaroons, Gingerbread or Vanillekipferl as a base. Use a special character as a space. Substitute letters with numbers that look the same. Substitute "o" with the digit zero, "L" with the digit one, "S" with the digit five, etc. Make a phrase out of it, and mix in special characters. "Snick3Rd00dle$#r#good”.

Mix up your schemes, one year use Cookies, then next year Baseball teams, wood working tools, maybe Civil War Generals. The advantage of better passphrases is that you can use them longer before having to change them.

Here are a number of simple suggestions that will help you generate strong passphrases.

  • 16-20 characters
  • Mix uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Add digits
  • Use symbols
  • Substitute characters

What to avoid.

  • Words from a dictionary
  • Only letters or digits
  • Things people can learn about you from social media, such as: birthdate, children’s names, pet’s names, etc.

If you have a lot of passphrases to remember a software password vault can assist. These programs store passwords in an encrypted file and require a single password to access. There are versions that sync to cloud accounts, support multiple devices like PCs, Macs, iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. LastPass, Keepass and SplashId are common and effective passphrase management tools. 

Example Passphrases:

Mushrooms are delicious becomes Mushr00m5R#Yummy
Tofu is nasty becomes T0Fu#15#Nasty
Sushi is raw fish becomes Su5hi#is#Raw<><