Having a professional WordPress website created
Written by Finn Ruijter, 13 January 2020

Secure account properly? Use passphrases!

The longer and more complex a password, the more difficult it is for malicious people to figure it out. But how on earth do you remember such a long password? The solution: passphrases.

Computers are getting faster and faster – including those of hackers. If a database of encrypted passwords falls into the hands of unauthorized parties, a supercomputer can try combinations of letters and numbers at lightning speed. When exactly it hits is then only a matter of time. And by creating a long password (more than 13 characters), you stretch that time -anno 2020- to as much as longer than a lifetime!

Why use passphrases?

You know the scenario: you log on as a new user of a program and are asked to come up with a password. Sometimes the software or website gives you a hand and can generate a random password consisting of a jumble of letters, numbers and special characters. But more often than not, you have to come up with such a password yourself. If you don’t use a password safe, it can be challenging to remember a hard-to-guess password. Your memory may fail you or you may lose the piece of paper on which you write down the password (something we advise against).

A passphrase offers the solution. It’s easy to remember, so you don’t have to write it down anywhere. Because it is long, hackers don’t get a chance and your account is well protected. Let it be one of your good resolutions to change your passwords to passphrases!

Here’s how to make a passphrase

What is called a passphrase, is a good trick to completely seal an account. With a bunch of letters in a row, you’re already making things difficult for hackers, and that difficulty only increases if you include numbers and capital letters in your passphrases.

  • Example: In 2003, Tesla was founded

Such a passphrase can then form the basis unique variants. You then supplement the fixed part (the sentence) with a variable part. Just make sure that malicious people cannot simply guess that variable part. For example, you could always take the first letter and the last letter from the name of the program or website. At Facebook it is “fk” and at the BBC it is “bc.

  • Windows: In2003Tesla was foundedws
  • MailChimp: In2003Teslawasfoundedmp
  • Slack: In2003Tesla was foundedsk

These are just examples; you’re bound to come up with a passphrase that appeals to you a little more. You can go even further and create a less logical series of words laced with numbers and special characters. This makes your accounts virtually impossible to hack.

  • Example: #Lucas1138StarW4rs!

Tips to ward off hackers

Tip 1: Always create unique passwords

Conversely, never reuse your passwords. From time to time, a major site is hacked and millions of usernames and passwords end up on the street. To unleash these combinations on other sites, you don’t even have to be a hacker. You avoid falling victim to a hack multiple times by always using unique passwords -or rather, passphrases.

Tip 2: Enable 2-Factor Authentication.

More and more sites are allowing you to opt for 2-Factor Authentication (2FA). In addition to your username and password, you enter a code that you generate with your smartphone, such as via SMS or in a free app like Google Authenticator. This greatly increases the security of your account, because go figure: the hacker not only needs to have or guess your password, but also needs your unlocked cell phone.

Tip 3: Use a password manager

A password manager is a program that stores your usernames and passwords in encrypted form. Your master password gives you access to that password vault; therefore, this is the only password you need to remember. If you forget it, you have a big problem! Password software will remind you from time to time to set a new password for a site and also generates random passwords. Some password lockers also tell you to change passwords for a specific site if there is a known hack. LastPass and 1Password are the best-known password managers. 1Password is the most user-friendly.