How many seconds would it take to break your password?
'Strong' isn't a detailed password-rating; go for a quintillions possible combos, then add a symbol
By Kevin Fogarty
Security breaches of mind-numbing size like those at LinkedIn and EHarmony.com set crypto- and security geeks to chattering about weak passwords and lazy users and the importance of non-alphanumeric characters to security.
And insisting on a particular number of characters in a password is just pointless security-fetish control freakishness, right?
Nope. The number and type of characters make a big difference.
How big? Adding a symbol eliminates the possibility of a straight dictionary attack (using, literally, words from a dictionary. Adding a symbol, especially an unusual one, makes it much harder to crack even using rainbow tables (collections of alphanumeric combinations, only some of which include symbols).
How big a difference to length and character make?
Look below and pick which password-cracking jobs you'd want to take on if you were a computer. The examples come from the Interactive Brute Force Password Search Space Calculator: at GRC.com, the love child of from former InfoWorld columnist and freeware contributor Steve Gibson.
How long would it take to crack my password: (Includes letters and numbers, no upper- or lower-case and no symbols)
6 characters: 2.25 billion possible combinations
10 characters: 3.76 quadrillion possible combinations
Add a symbol, make the crack several orders of magnitude more difficult:
10 characters: Possible combinations: 171.3 sextillion (171,269,557,687,901,638,419; 1.71 x 1020)
Take Steve's advice: go for 10 characters, then add a symbol.
Original appearance at ITworld.com
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