Microsoft has taken the bold, and perhaps smart, move of banning simple passwords from its services, such as '123456' or everyone's favourite 'password'.
The move comes after LinkedIn admitted that millions of users' log-in details are being sold by a hacker after a breach of the site in 2012.
So why is it so hard to get a good password, especially multiple ones across various websites? V3 asked some experts for advice on improving password security.
1. Add extra symbols and characters
Adding symbols and extra characters into a password will make it tougher to crack, according to Troy Gill, manager of security research at AppRiver.
"Passwords should appear to a stranger as nothing more than a random string of characters, incorporating a good mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation symbols," he told V3.
"One good method is to substitute look-alike characters for letters in your password, such as the '@' symbol for 'a', the '$' sign for '5' or 's' and so forth.
"Another good trick is a nice long acronym or partial words from a phrase to throw off any sort of dictionary-based attack. Take a nice long sentence that you'll remember such as 'I hate making up new passwords' and turn it into '[email protected]$s'.
2. Take advantage of password manager services
Unfortunately, the consensus in security circles is that no password method is 100 percent secure. This is also the view of Chris Boyd, malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes, who told V3 that password managers can be an extremely useful way of managing multiple credentials across a range of websites.
"A robust password manager with security settings enabled will always trump storing them in a desktop text file," he said.
"Everything from secure password sharing and offline mobile authentication, to log-ins enabled for specific countries, are just some of the options available [in password managers] and, given how many accounts we all have to manage these days, the age of attempting to remember all our credentials is long gone.
"I'd advise one secure master password backed up by additional security measures over an endless collection of short, reused dictionary words any day."
3. Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is an increasingly popular way of doubling down on personal security when using web services such as Amazon, Dropbox and Facebook. The feature allows users to add a secondary authentication method, such as a text message, email or phone call, as a way of verifying account details.
Tim Erlin, director of security at Tripwire, maintained that people should take advantage of this as a backup to the tried and trusted password.
"Always use two-factor authentication when it's available. Even if your password is compromised, two-factor authentication can protect you," he said.
4. Use 12 characters at the very least
Short passwords are easy to crack with modern technology. Richard Cassidy, EMEA technical director at security firm Alert Logic, explained that the more characters in a password the less chance it has of being cracked.
"Your average eight-character password (mandated by many online systems today) can be cracked in days," he said.
"A great deal of research has gone into the recommended minimum password length. Everyone should be choosing passwords of at least 12 characters (alphanumeric with special characters) that are completely random and that would challenge even the most sophisticated decryption rigs in the cyber criminal underground."
5. The ‘correct horse battery staple' method
A password with six characters can have around 200 billion combinations. This may sound a lot but actually it's nothing in the era of big data, according to Andy Green, technical specialist at security firm Varonis.
As such, he suggests using a technique known as the 'correct horse battery staple' method.
"Sure, you should have at least eight characters, but better yet use the ‘correct horse battery staple' method. Essentially, this is a memory trick where each letter of the password represents a word in a story," he said.
"So 'I just wrote a comment about passwords for the press' becomes ‘Ijwacapftp'. That's an un-guessable password for hackers but one that you'll never forget."
6. Change your perceptions: it's a pass phrase not a password
Craig Young, security researcher at Tripwire, told V3 that the term 'password' is partly to blame for many internet users' choice of easy to guess credentials. "The first step in choosing a password that online hackers can't break is to stop calling it a password and instead think of it as a pass phrase," he said.
"A starting point for a secure pass phrase might be a favourite quote or a line from a song complete with spaces and punctuation. From there the pass phrase can be made even less guessable through character substitutions such as replacing ‘o' with ‘0', ‘e' with ‘3', or ‘a' with ‘$'.
"If I were to create a password for an online book retailer, I might start with the quote 'It was the best of times' and then change this to ‘It w$s th3 b3st 0f tim3s' and add ‘books' making a final strong and unique passphrase ‘It w$s th3 b3st 0f tim3s b00ks'."
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