How to Create Strong Passwords

As you have probably heard, using strong passwords is important. This is because strong passwords can protect you from some very serious incidents such as having your online reputation hacked, your money taken, and/or your identity stolen. If you are unsure what constitutes a strong password, please refer to the RIT Password Standard. Below are some additional strategies to help you create a strong password that is easy to remember.

General Method

  • No one agrees on an exact minimum password length, but generally between 10 and 14 characters is a good length. Anything longer is even better, but it is up to the person who has to memorize it.
  • Use a mix of characters including numbers, symbols, and a variety of capital and lower-case letters. Using different types of characters makes your password harder to crack.
  • Stay away from using names, places, and dictionary words in your password. Using a single word as a password is never a good idea, but neither is using a combination of common words such as “silver car”.
  • Don’t use obvious substitutions. For example, substitutions like using a zero for an “o” or substituting the number one for an “i” are not as clever or unique as they used to be. Try using numbers and symbols randomly throughout your password.
     

Memorable Sentence Method

To create a password that’s complex, but easy to remember, use a favorite quote, phrase, or song lyric as the base for your password. You can then take the initials of each word and add numbers and symbols to create a hard-to-crack password. 

Example:

When I was six, I took my stuffed dog to school = WIw6,Itmsdts


Diceware Method

The Diceware method is a way of generating a random password through the use of dice and a wordlist. You roll the dice five times and then refer to the Diceware Word List. Each five digit number corresponds to a certain word. You can determine the length of the password by deciding how many words you want it to be. The point is to end up with several random words that don’t make sense together and aren’t in a grammatically correct order. 

Example:

11211 31325 43255 26456 63534 55525 = absorb glory nab fuse we stilt

Person-Action-Object (PAO) Method

The PAO method uses visual memorization as a mnemonic device to create a password that appears random, but is easy to remember. This method involves selecting an image of a place, an image of a familiar or famous person, and coming up with a random action and object. You then construct a one sentence story and use it as the base for your password. The idea is that image association makes it easier to commit the password to memory. 

Example:

Taylor Swift ate a balloon on the basketball court = TS8ablln0TbbCrt 

Once you’ve created a strong password, don’t forget to change it regularly! 

 

For more password advice:

Surveillance Self-Defense: Creating Strong Passwords

The Diceware Passphrase

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