How To Create A Strong Password

On passwords, passphrases and password managers.

"12345678"

"password"

"password123"

"qwerty123"

We've all probably had passwords like these at some point or the other (here's a list of most common ones). But if you're still persisting with these, then there's a good chance that your data might have been compromised somewhere on the Internet. A good, strong password is the first line of defence against any data breach.

A strong password — as you probably know — has to be long and should include a mix of the following characters:

  • Capital letters
  • Small letters
  • Numbers
  • Special characters (#^&%!)

What is meant by 'Password strength'?

Password strength is a measure of how effective a password will be against brute force or any guessing by a computer program or a hacker. The longer and more unique the password is, the more robust it will be.

What is a Passphrase?

A Passphrase is a set of words in a sequence (like a sentence). It is generally much longer than a single-word password. Using a passphrase is an effective method (especially when we are reluctant to use complex passwords) because it is easier to remember.

"Twinkle twinkle Little star How i Wonder what You are" is a passphrase. In this example though, we've deliberately made the phrase irregular with capital and small letters for more security.

You can use your favourite phrase as a passphrase so long as you make sure the phrase is long and unfamiliar to your local and online circles.

How to create a strong password

A strong password should be long, mixed in with a random set of characters and not include words from our daily conversation. For added convenience, you can convert an easy-to-remember word to a strong password.

Let's say you want to use "boomlive.in" as the password. As you've already seen, this is not a strong password. But you can make it stronger by substituting certain letters with numbers or special characters. Use the number '6' instead of 'b', and the number '0' instead of 'o', and '1' instead of 'i' and so on. When you play around with these substitutions, you will get the password "60oMl1v3dO71n".

Here's the key for the substitutions: (b = 6, o = 0, o = o, m = M, l = l, i = 1, v = v, e = 3, . = do7, i = 1, n = n).

In this way, you can create an easy-to-remember and strong password.

What is a Password Manager?

A Password Manager is an effective way to secure your passwords. You'll find these managers on browsers (as plug-ins) or download them onto your phones and desktops as an application.

Password managers help us store, generate, and manage passwords. They are also easy to use. All you need to do is to remember one master password. Think of the master password as a key that unlocks tens of other passwords that are stored in a vault.

There are dozens of password managers, but we recommend these two:

KeePassXC - Available for both desktops and phones (Windows, GNU/Linux, Mac OS, Android, iOS, etc.) It can be used offline.


Bitwarden - Available for desktops, phones and web (Windows, GNU/Linux, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, etc.) It can be used both online and offline.

Our recommendations are based on several factors, such as whether the password managers are open source and privacy friendly; if they've had any data breaches lately or any record of spying on their users, and other considerations such as compatibility, user interface and more.

Coming up next: How to use a password manager.

This is part of a series on digital literacy titled Digital Buddhi, aimed at helping you be safe online.

Amoghavarsha H is a digital investigator and a journalist.

Updated On: 2021-05-26T15:35:07+05:30
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