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Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online
Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online

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2.2 Checking the strength of a password

This image, depicting strength, shows two young men arm wrestling.
Figure 5

So you’ve learned to pick strong passwords that are easier to remember, to use different passwords for different organisations and to change them periodically.

When you create a new password you will sometimes see an indication of how weak or strong a password is. There are also apps that can help us to create and manage our passwords. We will look at these a little bit later, but let us start by getting some understanding of how to measure the strength of a password.

Construct an example password using the place name of the city, town or village where you live using only lower case letters – no capitals, spaces, dashes, and so on.

Test it using the password strength checker [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]  on the OpenLearn site and make a note of the score. Open the link in a new window so that you can refer back to it as you continue with this section. If you live in a place with a short name such as Ayr, just repeat the name a few times until you have met the minimum length requirement for the password checker.

Modify it into a very strong password using the technique for converting a phrase into a password that you learned earlier.

Think about why the security of the two passwords was different and what makes a very strong password. Things to consider include:

  • password length
  • the range of characters you used
  • whether any personal information is recognisable in your passwords (and could be guessed)
  • how easy or difficult it is for you to remember the new password.