Information Technology

How to Build a Strong Passphrase

Probably one of the very first things you had to do with a computer was to pick a password for your account.   You had to invent one on the spot, and you had to make it “strong” and easy enough to memorize.    With the requirements of mixed case, special characters, numbers and frequent resets, that is not an easy thing to do.  Like the rest of us, you probably have a password made up from some combination of your birth date, your pet’s name, and “@” and “$” signs for “a” and “s”.   

Those complex password requirements were established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2003, but in 2017 they provided new guidance for passwords that makes it easier for us to use them and harder for the bad guys to get them.    The main takeaway is that a simple and longer “passphrase” is more secure than a shorter complex password. 

So how can you build a good passphrase that is easy to remember?  One way is to build a short sentence using common grammatical components like:  [person/animal/thing]  + [action] + [place/time/thing].  So using that as a formula, here are some examples of memorable and strong passphrases:  “Giraffes jump on trees!”  or “Number 2 pencils ace tests.” 

A password can contain spaces, and it is still good to use at least one number/punctuation mark, and one upper case letter.  Most important, make your passphrase simple, long (at least 12 characters) and memorable!




Do you have an account with one of the companies below?  Thanks to the data breaches that have occurred over the last couple years at these businesses, your password is likely known to cyber-criminals.  Build a good passphrase today and reset your accounts.  It might be last password you ever need to remember!