Vancouver Ethiopian Blog

Ethiopian life in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Tips on How to Choose Secure Passwords for your Online Accounts

I thought about writing this post after my cousin was tricked by a Nigerian Phishing Scam, as I reported last week.

In this post, I try to list some basic requirements in order to select secure passwords, keeping in mind that the chosen passwords can easily be remembered, and are secure.

Passwords are the key to many systems and applications. Your password helps to prove who you are, ensure your privacy, and protect the privacy of data you may have access to.

Compromised passwords are one of the means by which unauthorized people gain access to a system. Someone logging on under your name has access not only to your computer files, but may also have access to your personal information (e.g. financial info, social insurance number, bank information, and any other sensitive information) and may impersonate you to send malicious e-mails.

It’s important to choose a strong password and protect it as there are many password-cracking programs readily available on the Internet.  A strong password makes it reasonably difficult to guess the password in a short period of time by humans or by automated password cracking programs.

So, how do you choose a secure password and how do you protect it?


– Minimum Password Character Length = 8 characters
– Passwords should use the following four types of characters:

  • Lowercase
  • Uppercase
  • Numbers (at least one number, from 0 to 9)
  • Special characters such as !@#$%^&*(){}[]/ \ |~  – _ + =

Remember that passwords are case sensitive while the user name or login name is not.

Creating Passwords

  1. Embed a word or part of a word within another.
  2. Mispel a word deleberitely especially if you use a word for part of your password.
  3. Interleave two or more words.
  4. Use a phrase that is personal to you and use the first, second, or third character in each word in each phrase. The Phrase can be a question and answer phrase.

Here are some examples of passwords:

As I explained in Table 1, the second column password is better than the first column. However, if you want the best password possible, DO NOT repeat any character.

In the examples given in Table 1, for instance, in the first raw of passwords, the letter “o” is repeated, as in “book” and “#B1o2o3K4″; and in the second raw, “v” is repeated, as in “Vancouver”, and “$Van/Cou1Ver!”. Repeating same characters will make passwords weaker.

Table 1 – Bad Passwords Vs. Better Passwords

Bad Password Better Password Remarks
book #B1o2o3K4 Added some characters to the bad password. “B” and “K” are capitals
Vancouver $Van/Cou1Ver! Added some characters to the bad password.
“V”, “C”, and “V” are capitals

Table 2 – Bad Passwords Vs. Best Passwords

Bad Password BEST Password Remarks
book #B1o2u3K4 Added some non-repeating characters to the bad password. Mis-spelled book as bouk. “B” and “K” are capitals
Vancouver $8Van/Cou1Ber! Added some non-repeating characters to the bad password. “V”, “C”, and “B” are capitals. Easy to remember (BC’s minimum wage per 1 hour)

Other Precautions for Password Security:

  1. Change your passwords periodically
  2. Use a password manager with strong encryption
  3. Avoid reusing a password
  4. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts
  5. Do not use automatic logon functionality
  6. Log out and quit applications
  7. Be aware of Phishing tricks
  8. Notify technical staff if access is no longer needed
  9. Do not write your password down on a piece of paper.
  10. Do not transmit your network password across the Internet without it being encrypted.

My next blog entry will be on Thursday May 27, 2010.
Mullkam Samint!


May 20, 2010 - Posted by | Ethiopian Alphabet, Ethiopian Businesses, Ethiopian Careers, Ethiopian Citizenship, Ethiopian Culture, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian History, Ethiopian Investments, Ethiopian Languages, Ethiopian Media, Ethiopian Proverbs, Ethiopian Relationships, Ethiopian Socials, Ethiopians & Technology, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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