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Get Better Security by Testing the Strength of Your Passwords

If you have a pulse, you have passwords. Probably a lot of passwords. But how secure are they? You probably already know some obvious passwords tips, like avoiding names, dates, and personally identifiable numbers like zip codes and your SSN. But now you can test your password strength with Microsoft Password Checker.

Like the Password Meter we wrote about last year, Password Checker is a simple Web app that reports the relative strength of your password as Weak, Medium, Strong, or Best. The tool also gives advice on how to beef up your password.

Lowercase, text-only passwords are the weakest, and therefore easiest to crack. You'll get bonus points for inserting capitalization, numbers, or other symbols. And you'll get the best score by creating a 14-character password that combines all of the above.

That's a lot to ask, especially for passwords like Windows log-ons that you have to change regularly due to IT policy. My personal solution? I pick a sequential series -- like the days of the week, months of the year, or parts of the body -- which makes it easy to pick a new password when the time comes. Then I use the same word twice, buffered with some symbol in between.

So one of my passwords might be August@2August, and next time around, I'll change it to September#3September. The password checker loves my passwords -- they always clock in as Best-- and I have a "system" that makes my passwords easy to remember and update.

If that doesn't sound like a good fit for you, check out our previous post, 6 Tips for Creating Stronger Passwords.

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