Forget about passwords: You need a passphrase!

Ok, raise your hand if you have trouble keeping track of all of your passwords. Or maybe you have an extensive spreadsheet or a ratty old pocket notebook full of passwords crossed out and rewritten as you update them? Whatever your method of keeping track, I think we can all agree it’s getting harder and harder to remember which combination or your favorite pet’s name and childhood phone number you’ve used for each account. Is it Winson!1357 for this account? Oh wait, maybe it’s w!nstoN1357…

Due to the threat to cyber security, our passwords have evolved and the rules for creating secure passwords have become more complex. It’s with good reason! Hackers have an ever-evolving, highly sophisticated toolkit which makes it easier and easier for them to crack your codes and gain access to all of your personal and private information. And if they can crack codes for huge companies who have professionals in charge of their cyber security, how on Earth are you going to keep your data safe? Well, a new trend in securing your login data is to use a passphrase instead of a password. But, aren’t those the same thing? The answer is no, not really.

Passwords are generally a combination of a string of 10 (or less) letters, numbers, and symbols. These could be random or they could be meaningful to you, like your first girlfriend’s nickname and birthdate (sweetpe@306) or the name of your great grandfather’s boat (WhoaNelly!).

Passphrases are a bit different. These are longer than the standard 10 characters and they contain, drumroll please….spaces! That’s right, they’re pretty much sentences. Having longer passphrases makes it more difficult for hackers to crack your code and they can be easier for you to remember. You’re probably thinking “How is it easier to remember a LONGER passcode?” Well, remember how you could recite every single word to your favorite song in grade school but couldn’t for the life of you remember the elements on the periodic table? It’s kind of like that! For example, a passcode for logging into your medical chart might be something from your favorite Doctor Who episode – “Wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff!” or perhaps a passphrase for your gym membership account might be the song that motivates you the most – “Its the eye of the tiger its the thrill of the fight!”

Still not convinced? Let’s break it down a little more.

Passphrasses are:

  • Easier to remember…just like your favorite song or movie quote.
  • Harder to crack – hackers only need to crack one 10 character word when a password is used. Windows, Linux, and Mac allow passcodes to be up to 127 characters long! So, the longer the passphrase the harder it is to crack. A rule of thumb is to aim for 14 characters or more.
  • Still compliant with the complex passcode rules. You can still use capital and lowercase letters, special characters, and now spaces!

Updating your login credentials to include passphrases will maximize your cyber security and help you rest easy knowing you are more protected than ever.


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