3 Fast and Easy Ways to Determine If Your Passwords Are Up to Snuff
If you follow tech news at all, you know of the epic hacking of Mat Honan’s digital life. His story didn’t involve weak passwords, but generally underscores how important it is for all of us to take an inventory of how secure we keep our online information. One component of this involves your passwords, and one step in password security is making sure that your passwords are strong.
There are a few ways to test the strength of your passwords.
1. Use a Web Service
You can use a web service, such as The Password Meter or How Secure is My Password, to test the strength of individual passwords. Of course, for the truly paranoid, you might not want to test a future password on a third-party site. What I did instead was take one of my passwords, and swap out several of the characters for corresponding characters. For example, I swapped out lower case letters for other lower case letters, non-alphanumberic characters for other non-alphanumeric characters, and so on. This probably only gives you an accurate idea of the strength of your passwords if you aren’t using dictionary words as part of your password. Using this method, I learned that it would take a desktop computer 931 trillion years to crack my password using brute force.
Microsoft offers a basic tool that can perform a similar check.
2. Use Your Operating System (Mac Only)
If you’re on Mac OS X, you can use a built in feature on your Mac to test out the strength of a password. OS X Daily recently explained how.
3. Use Your Password Manager to Test a Password (or
If you use a password manager, you can probably forget about the two methods above. I love LastPass, and have written about it quite a bit here. With LastPass, the strength of a password is displayed right in your Vault, with each password entry. The strength of a password is represented by a bar that extends from red to green depending on how strong the password is.
Other password managers, such as 1Password, offer similar functionality.
Of course, having a strong password is just the first step in protecting yourself. On the password front, there are many other considerations as well. If you use LastPass, you can take a complete inventory of all of your passwords, and check for other flaws as well (such as using the same password on multiple sites). To do this, log in to your LastPass account and then take the security challenge.
I’m also a big fan of Google’s two-factor authentication, which requires you to enter not only your password, but a unique, ever-changing code, in order to access your Google account.
Do you have any tips for securing your passwords?