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Using Passphrases Instead of Passwords for Better Security


Passwords are necessary when accessing a computer system or browsing the web. Whether you use online banking or stock trading, a strong password can mean the difference between a secure account or an invitation to hackers. It is highly recommended that you use a passphrase instead of a password.

Reasons for Using a Passphrase

  • Passphrases are usually longer than the traditional password and add an additional layer of safety since they cannot be easily guessed by an intruder.
  • The use of a good passphrase can enhance the safety of all online accounts and computer systems.

    Note: It is recommended that you use different passwords for each of your online accounts. Never reuse your email password when signing up for any online account, such as banking or stock trading.

Tips for Creating Passphrases

  • Use an expression such as, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". Use the first letter of each word of the sentence in the password. In this example, the password would contain yctaodnt, then add a number, special character, and capitalization to get "4ycTaodnT!".
  • You can also use a favorite quote as your passphrase such as "BruceWillisismyhero". Add a few numbers, change the letters to number, or add some special characters and you will have created a passphrase that is almost impossible to guess, "BruceW1ll1s1smyher0!". Not too hard to remember, yet very tough for someone to guess.

Strong Passphrase Recommendations

It is more challenging to break or steal a password that meets the following conditions.
  • Is between 15 and 24 characters long.
  • Includes one or both of the following.
    • At least one symbol or special character: !@#$%^*().
    • Case-sensitive lettering, such as SaMpLe rather than sample.
  • Includes none of the following.
    • Alphabetic series, either forwards or backwards, such as ABCDEF or FEDCBA.
    • Numeric series, either forwards or backwards, such as 123456 or 654321.
    • Repeated letters or numbers, such as AAAAAA or 111111.
    • Common keyboard groupings, such as ASDFG or QWERTY.
    • Names or birthdays.
  • Is developed from a passphrase sentence that only the account holder would know and can easily remember.

Passphrase Management Services

There are free and paid services available to assist you in managing your passphrases.

Cox does not endorse or support these products. These are only references to available products allowing you to manage multiple passphrases from a single location. Support for these programs are handled by the respective software manufacturers.

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