Understanding the importance of strong, unique passwords and how to create them.
Let’s venture into the world of ancient mythology for a moment. Here, every fortress had a secret entrance, and knowing the password to this entrance could mean the difference between victory and defeat. In the realm of digital fortresses that we inhabit today, this wisdom holds true. Our personal information, banking details, and social interactions are safeguarded within these modern-day fortresses, and the passwords we use are the secret entrances.
Now imagine if the secret password to every fortress in a kingdom was ‘Password123’. It wouldn’t take long for an adversary to lay the kingdom to waste. This is the digital equivalent of using weak or repetitive passwords. According to a study by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre in 2019, ‘123456’ topped the list of most common passwords, and was found on 23 million hacked accounts (1).
So, how do you devise a strong password that’s both unique and memorable? Well, imagine you’re creating a mystical spell. It needs to be potent (strong), one-of-a-kind (unique), yet something you can recite without peering into a spellbook (memorable).
A robust password should ideally have a blend of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols, and be at least 12 characters long.
One tactic is to concoct a password from a memorable sentence or phrase. Let’s say, “My first pet was a black cat named Lucky!” You can convert this to a password by taking the first letter of each word, and substituting some letters with numbers or symbols: ‘Mfpw@bcnL!’.
Another technique is to create a passphrase, which is a sequence of random words tied together. It could be something like ‘RainbowDragonElevatorMarshmallow’. This is easier to remember than a complex string of characters and is just as strong, if not stronger.
It’s also crucial not to use the same password or spell for every fortress or account. If one fortress falls, the rest remain secure. A password manager can serve as your trusted scribe, remembering your spells when you cannot.
Remember, in the grand narrative of cybersecurity, you are the hero, and a strong, unique password is one of the most powerful spells in your arsenal. So go ahead, be creative, and conjure up your mystical defense.
(1) National Cyber Security Centre. “UK’s most hacked passwords revealed as Cyber Survey exposes gaps in online security.” NCSC, 2019. https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/news/most-hacked-passwords-revealed-as-uk-cyber-survey-exposes-gaps-in-online-security