Information Services > Security > Protect Yourself > How to Choose a Strong Password
Passwords DefinedThe computer security industry defines a password as a token of identity. Generally this token is used to authenticate users to computer systems, networks and applications using a "known secret" or piece of information unique to the individual. Passwords have become a way for an individual to prove their identity in a limited capacity. While other technologies exist to decrease the rate of error (biometrics, multiple authentication levels, etc.), passwords are the most common method available.
The best way to protect your computer is by choosing a "strong" password. But how can a strong password be chosen? Simple!
These short rules will get you started on choosing a strong password. Always remember that passwords should be fluently typed to combat against those "shoulder surfers" that often like to gain access by watching your fingers on the keyboard. Note: It's not rude to ask a person to look away from the keyboard while you authenticate into a system! Security Requires Inspiration Now that you've read the rules and are ready to change all 19 passwords you use (we're always wishing for a perfect world!), it's time to generate a password. After authenticating to the computer or application, you start to think about a new password....and think...and think. It's not easy, we've been there and know how difficult it is to come up with crafty strings of letters. A good solution is to generate a phrase or sentence that you can easily remember, then use that phrase as the inspiration for your password. We'll take the following sentence as our inspiration. As Mars comes closer, I long to go home! Using a simple rule of choosing the first character from each word of this phrase, we can generate a password as such: AMcc,Il2gh! That simple formula has produced an eleven (11) character password that will protect you against most modern-day passwords cracking programs for thousands of computing years.