Is your password too short to be safe?

WASHINGTON — Your passwords are likely too short.

“Eight character passwords are too short. They can be broken in just over a minute,” says Ken Coleburn of Data Doctors. “Today’s hacker technology using something called ‘Brute Force’ is basically hundreds of millions of (password) guesses per second.”

Colburn says the new standard should be to create passwords that are at least 15 characters long.

“Which causes everybody to gasp and go ‘How the heck am I going to remember a 15 character password?'” Colburn suggests losing the pass ‘word’ idea and instead think of pass ‘phrases’ such as “(Capital) I (space) hate (space) passwords!”

Make sure the phrases include at least one capital letter and special character.

Experts such as Colburn also suggest you never use the same password for more than one online account. You can get help to remember them all.

“The best way to manage that is with a password management tool. There’s a bunch of them out there that are free,” Colburn says. “They’ll work on a mobile device, they’ll work on the Internet, and they’ll work on terminals that you go to.”

Colburn believes that trusting the security of password saving programs outweighs the potential risk of using an easily hackable password in numbers of places.

“If you use the same password on every online account there’s almost zero chance that you won’t be hacked down the road,” Colburn says.

You can check the security level of your password at the Gibson Research Center.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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