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Secure password creation strategies

Published: 8-20-2012 2:50 pm

Greetings all,
With the new password policies that went into place this spring, we've fielded a number of comments from folks who struggle to create compliant passwords. We thought it might be nice to do a mini educational series on strategies for password creation. We'll be sharing a brief note each day this week, starting today, both here and on the NATS facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NATSatWSC

Password creation tip #1: Leetspeak

Take a common word that you can easily remember, perhaps a middle name, model of car you drive, a favorite restaurant, or the street on which you live, and substitute visually similar symbols (homoglyphs) for the letters.

For example:
McDonalds would become: McD0nalds
The o has become a capital zero. Notice that this qualifies under WSC's password rules (longer than 8 characters, upper case, lower case and digits).

For a more interesting example:
Oakview would become 0akv1evv

The O has becomes a zero, the i has become a 1 and the w has become two v's, stretching the word from 7 characters to 8 and qualifying under the password rules.

Leetspeak is, essentially, a simple form of character-substitution cipher cryptography, based on the premise that the "person" you are trying to keep your data from doesn't understand the cipher pattern. Since most hacking systems use dictionary-based attacks and don't consider visually similar homoglyphs, leetspeak is an effective way to foil them and still leave you with a password that is relatively easy to remember!

We hope this helps you create secure, easy-to-remember passwords!

JD

Wayne State College
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