With weekly site hacks, I have decided it’s time to upgrade all my passwords. I want to use random sequences, but they’re hard to create. Is there a simple password generator tool I can use to quickly create great passwords?
I am always happy to hear about people who are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to site and service security. Yes, we rely on companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook to keep their data secure, but if we use our dog’s name or street address or something ridiculously easy to guess like “123456789” (one of the ten most common passwords!) then we can’t really blame them for data breaches. Much smarter is to get into the habit of using complex and random passwords for various sites, and different passwords on each site too.
The problem, as you highlight, is that it’s pretty hard for us humans to come up with truly random passwords. Run your finger along a QWERTY keyboard and you’ve just created an easily guessed password, believe it or not. So no, “zxcvbnm” is not a good way to keep your account safe. We humans also tend to think in patterns, so coming up with anything random is difficult. Fortunately computers don’t have that limitation!
There are a lot of tools to create random passwords, but one I’ll suggest you check out was just released by the VPNMentor team and it’s a free web-based tool that’s super easy to work with. Go to VPN Mentor random password generator and you’ll see this:
Click on the “Create Random Password” button on the right and you’ll have a perfectly serviceable 10-character password ready to use:
Keep clicking on “Create Random Password” and it’ll keep changing. Ready? Click “Copy” to copy it to the clipboard and go!
Before we go further, however, let’s talk briefly about the math. This is a 10 character password comprised of upper and lowercase letters and numbers. That means any individual character is selected from 2*26+10 or 62 possibilities. 62**10 = 8.37e17 possibilities. Or, if you don’t like scientific notation, that’s 837,000,000,000,000,000 possible passwords. A lot. Enough that even a fast computer is going to take a mighty long time trying to crack it. And so, mission accomplished.
Still, sometimes you want a bit more control over your password and that’s why the generator offers “Define Your Password”. Click on that button and you get lots of things you can tweak to customize your generated password:
Lots of additional choices, and the 14-character password generated that includes symbols is even harder to guess!
Now, if you want that level of control, you might prefer the terrific pop-up password generator included in the password management tool 1Password:
Either way, you’re going to have a much more secure set of online accounts if you start using either of these tools to create your new random and secure passwords!
Pro Tip: Passwords can be a hassle, as can everything to do with account security. But ya gotta do it. Fortunately I have a lot of articles here on the site about online security and encourage you to check out my account security help area!