Julie: 3 tips for creating a hack-proof password

USQ blogger: Julie Christensen

Julie completed a Graduate Certificate in Professional Studies in 2017 and when she wrote this blog, she was working in USQ's ICT Services department. She loves all things cooking and her success rate in the kitchen has now hit new highs of 110%. Julie also dreams up things to add to her ever-expanding bucket list for when her children decide to make her an empty nester.


Two questions that are often asked when it comes to passwords are ‘does size really matter?’ and ‘how often should I change my password?’.

Here at ICT, we believe it’s more important to create passwords with length over complexity, and that by updating your passwords every 6–12 months, you are less likely to resort to picking easier and shorter passwords that can be hacked quickly.

Due to the high volume of conflicting information about password security that can be found online, password anxiety is becoming more and more common.

So we thought we’d help ease some of this concern with these three tips to help you make sure your password is as secure as possible:

1. Try using a passphrase

Next time you change your password, consider using a passphrase. At ICT, we recommend the use of passphrases to help mitigate the trade-off between what people can remember easily and what’s difficult for hackers to crack.

The key to using a passphrase is to make sure that it is memorable to you. Try using a quote, song lyric, childhood memory or your favourite food. Then, add punctuation, numbers and spaces between the words or letters to increase the complexity.

For example:

‘Length over complexity’ could become ‘L3ngth_<_Compl3xity!’.

This combination would take over 10,000 centuries* to hack with an average home computer because, while a hacker may try any of the words individually, only you will know all the word and characters in this particular combination.

2. Be mindful of password recycling

When it comes to the number of passwords we are expected to set up and remember these days, it’s understandable that many of us choose to re-use the same or variations of the one password across multiple sites.

Think of this as our friendly reminder to you that it could be a good time to ‘spring clean’ your online security by reviewing your password strength and thinking about how many times you’ve used the same password.

3. Double check how secure your password really is

You can check out the security of your potential password on KasPerSky and receive an estimate of how much time it would take a hacker to crack your password.

*Please note: never enter your real password! This tool should only be used to help provide you with an idea of the strength of the password approach you’re thinking of/ are using.

Implementing just one or all three of these tips is sure to give your password security a boost and could save your reputation, time and money by making your accounts hack-proof.

If you would like further information on USQ’s criteria and recommendations for password security, check out ICT’s computing webpage or get in contact with your Student Relationship Officer (SRO).

*Kaspersky.com


Related:

Kiris: How to ace study with technology

Roxy: How to harness technology and improve your study 

Emma: I gave into technology and here’s what I’ve learned