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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tips for creating strong passwords and passphrases

A password is a string of characters used to access information or a computer. Passphrases are typically longer than passwords, for added security, and contain multiple words that create a phrase. Passwords and passphrases help prevent unauthorized people from accessing files, programs, and other resources. When you create a password or passphrase, you should make it strong, which means it's difficult to guess or crack. It's a good idea to use strong passwords on all user accounts on your computer. If you're using a workplace network, your network administrator might require you to use a strong password.


  • In wireless networking, a Wi‑Fi Protected Access (WPA) security key supports the use of a passphrase. This passphrase is converted into a key that is used for encryption, which is not visible to you. For more information about WPA security keys, see What are the different wireless network security methods?

What makes a password or passphrase strong?

A strong password:

A strong passphrase:

  • Is at least eight characters long.

  • Does not contain your user name, real name, or company name.

  • Does not contain a complete word.

  • Is significantly different from previous passwords.

  • Is 20 to 30 characters long.

  • Is a series of words that create a phrase.

  • Does not contain common phrases found in literature or music.

  • Does not contain words found in the dictionary.

  • Does not contain your user name, real name, or company name.

  • Is significantly different from previous passwords or passphrases.

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