If You Think You Are Safe Using ji32k7au4a83 as Your Password, You Are Very Wrong

We have talked about the importance of strong passwords before. Judging from the number of times we have touched upon this topic, it would seem that our regular readers should already be strong password experts. Nevertheless, there seems to be a misconception of what a strong password is. That is probably because of all those popular password lists that are announced annually. Users often see that using words or number sequences for passwords is deemed unsafe, and so they reach a conclusion that random alphanumeric sequences for passwords would be safer. However, that is also not exactly true, and we are going to tell you why.

Multilingual passwords

It all started when a software engineer Robert Ou asked his followers on Twitter to figure out how the password "ji32k7au4a83" has been guessed multiple times as suggested by HaveIBeenPwned. After all, when we look at this password combination from our perspective, it looks like a totally random alphanumeric sequence. But, we have to remember that the Latin alphabet isn't the only one that can be used on a keyboard. And it was soon discovered that on one of the Chinese character keyboard layouts, "ji32k7au4a83" can be decoded into 我的密码, which literally means "my password."

It sounds pretty clever, and for the ignorant, this password combination might be quite complicated. However, using a different character layout and representing the final result in the QWERTY characters isn't something unheard of. It often leads to puns and jokes between users of different languages. For example, a Korean singer Lee Junho uses the "dlswnsghek" username as his Twitter handle. And at the first glance, it might look like a totally random jumble of letters. However, if we switch our keyboard into the Korean IME layout and trace the same keys, we would get 이준호다, which means "this is Lee Junho."

So using different keyboard layouts to come up with seemingly random password combinations might seem like a fun thing to do. The only problem is that if that character combination means something in another language, the chances are that sooner or later it can be traced and guessed by a malevolent third party. To put it simply, "ji32k7au4a83" is no different than "mypassword" when it comes to the password complexity, and it is clear that it cannot protect your personal information properly. Consequently, we need to look for ways to come up with strong password combinations.

What is a strong password?

To regurgitate everything we have told you before, we will go through a short list of things that you have to pay attention to when you want to create a strong password combination. You already know that the password shouldn't have a meaning in ANY language; otherwise, it is relatively easy to guess.

Password combination and complexity are not the same things. You might have a very long combination, but it may not be complex. For example, youcouldhavethisentiresentenceasyourpasswordbutitwouldntbesafe. Not to mention that there might be password character limits that you have to adhere to. So let's forget about the meaning, and let's look for passwords that are actually complex in a sense that they are hard to guess. This means that you should use that password character limit to the fullest, and in your password, you should include all the characters offered by your keyboard: capital letters, special characters, numbers, and so on.

Luckily, these days, companies that are concerned with data security will ask users to create lengthy passwords, and their systems will not accept passwords that do not have upper case letters, numbers or special characters. This automatically makes users come up with something more complex.

However, the longer is our password combination, the harder it is to remember it. And we certainly many accounts to protect! So what do we do to save us the trouble of keeping extensive password lists somewhere in our memo pads? Well, one of the most efficient ways to create complex passwords and have a unique password for each account is employing a password manager.

We would like you to try out Cyclonis Password Manager in this case. Cyclonis Password Manager is compatible with Windows and Mac devices, and this tool is created to help you manage all of your passwords across different accounts and different browsers. With one master password, you can keep all of your passwords in a securely encrypted vault that will protect them from being guessed or stolen. Also, even if you do not want to use a third-party tool to create new passwords, you can check the strength of your current passwords by using Cyclonis Password Manager to run a password Strength Score.

You can be sure that if Cyclonis Password Analyzer checked the ji32k7au4a83 password combination, it would definitely indicate it as weak, and you would be offered to improve your password strength.

Aside from using a reliable password manager, you might also want to reconsider some of your online habits. For example, it is very often that users recycle their passwords, using one password combination for multiple accounts because it is easier that way. However, each password has to be unique if you want to minimize the potential of getting hacked. So if up until now you used one or two passwords across your different accounts, you might want to create new ones right now.

Finally, you should also be careful about what websites you visit and what emails you open. Users get targeted by phishing attacks every single day, and sometimes we don't even notice how we open spam emails that look like legitimate notifications. These phishing and spam emails use treacherous tactics to lure important information from unsuspecting users, and sometimes users might even give away their passwords without realizing it.

Therefore, as you can see, password combination strength is just one of the many cyber security aspects that you have to take into consideration when you want to protect yourself from personal information theft. No protection is fail-proof, but if you do everything you can to avoid something dangerous, you will be able to give yourself a good pat on the back at the end of the day.

April 1, 2019

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