Create strong passwords this World Password Day

Today marks this year’s edition of World Password Day. Started by tech giant Intel back in 2013, the annual event now takes place on the first Thursday of May every year to reiterate the need for strong passwords – something that will only become evermore important as the number of things we do online continues to grow. So, if you’re one of the people still using something like “Password” or “123456” as passwords (yes, really – check out these stats from NordPass, there’s actually millions who do!), what better time to come up with something stronger?

How can I set a strong password?

Password generators

The simple answer nowadays would be to use a random password generator. There are plenty available online that can be found with a quick search, although they are also available in popular browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox. These can save you from the malarkey of having to come up with passwords that meet huge sets of requirements and can be saved in your browser so that they are easily accessible across devices. Passwords made with generators will often be an assortment of characters that don’t make any phrase in particular, so anyone will have a hard time trying to crack them. For example, here’s a password we got by using a generator: *0%dH435GwZM

However, this is where the potential downside of using a password generator comes in – read that password, then close your eyes and try to recite it. Don’t forget to specify which letters are uppercase and which are lowercase, too.

Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

Password generators are the best option when the password is saved and immediately available through a password manager, but what if you’re using a new device or aren’t logged into the account that the password is saved on? Chances are you’re going to have to seek out the password or reset it to have any chance of logging in.

So, while using a password generator can be incredibly convenient a lot of the time, sometimes it’s still worth considering doing things the old-fashioned way and coming up with a memorable but complex passphrase.

Things to avoid when setting passwords

As touched upon earlier, using an easily guessable phrase like “password” is almost as good as not having a password at all. This can also apply for phrases that are personal to you, especially if they are something others know about you or can easily find out. For example, if you use a relative’s name in your password, this could be guessed by anyone who knows you well enough or has access to that information.

You would also do well to avoid setting passwords that are too short and/or simple. A short password is problematic as all it takes is someone seeing you type it for them to find it out and remember it. Say you were to use a single random word as your password – sure, there are plenty for people to guess from, but it would be very easy for someone who saw you type it to remember.

Make sure not to reuse passwords either, no matter how strong one may seem – you wouldn’t want someone to find it out if lets them into everything you have an account on.

Get creative with characters

Adding various character types is one of the simplest and most reliable way to make passwords stronger.

Say we told you our password was a variation of “celebrate” - it could be just that. Or it could be “Celebrate!”. Or it could be “CeLeBr8”. Or maybe even “C313br@t3”!

You get the picture - by adding in additional character types, you can open up so many possible variations of phrases that will make them a lot harder to guess or be recognised or remembered by others should someone happen to notice you typing it.

Bear in mind that while introducing additional character types to your passwords is a good starting point, it does not guarantee a password is entirely secure. It is possible for hacking software to recognise common character replacements and so it may still be possible for a password to be identified this way if it’s solely reliant on swapping characters.

Take it another step with a pass phrase

You can make a stronger yet memorable password by using a multiple word phrase with a mix of characters. Take our latest campaign slogan “Less Malarkey, more SMARTY”, for example. While it wouldn’t be a viable choice for us as we share it so publicly, it could be turned into a strong password with a few tweaks. For example: -M@L4Rk3y+5M4RtY!

This phrase is easily memorable, although at 17 characters in length and with a mix of character types thrown in, it would be difficult for a person or machine to crack quickly. Although some common character substitutions are used, they are not always consistent (notice the first A becomes an @ whilst the other two become 4s). Similarly, “Less” and “More” are replaced by minus and plus symbols, which alters the phrase more than by using variations of the words themselves.

This is just one example of how with a few tweaks, you can have a passphrase you will be able to remember that will also give you a strong level of protection. So long as it makes sense to you, you can do whatever you like with it! For example:

  • All for one and one for all could become ALL4-1&0NE4-4
  • May the Force be with you could become M@yD4rce>BU< (it’s Star Wars Day too, after all…)
  • N3v3rGGY^.N3v3rGLYv. would be followed by “Never gonna run around and desert you”…

With all this in mind, you hopefully now have all the knowledge and tools you need to create a solid set of passwords that will keep all your accounts secure. Now you can get them written, pop them into a password manager and let your devices do the rest – just don’t forget the password to your password manager!

  • SMARTY Team
  • May 4th, 2023