Building a better password

Is your password really as secure as you think it is? Davey Winder investigates.

1. Capitalise the fourth character.

2. Add a numeric character after the second character.

3. Add a non-alpha-numeric character to the end.

4. Put the last character of the online resource you're logging into at the beginning.

So Amazon gets a password of Nt2qbFjotld while YouTube gets Et2qbFjotld which are both unique and difficult to guess, or crack using brute force tools, but despite the complex appearances are easy to remember as it's the methodology that sticks in the memory.

Strategic thinking

It's important not to forget that password policies, and the processes in place around them, are just as crucial as the secure nature of the password themselves. As Greg Day, director of security strategy at McAfee (EMEA), reminds us "It is important that enterprises ensure that workers refresh their passwords periodically, but as with any area of data security, excessive changes lead to a greater risk of human error".

What the enterprise has to do is get the balance right. Unfortunately all too often what happens is they introduce complex password policies leading to an increase in costs courtesy of IT support calls and lost productivity, and an increase in risk as users write passwords down or use the same one for every resource.

The answer is for password protection to be considered and a serious business issue by everyone in the enterprise, rather than a hindrance.

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