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■    The word password

   Proper names

■    Your pet’s name

■    Your spouse’s name

■    Your children’s names

■    Any word in the dictionary

■    A license plate number

■    Birth dates

   Anniversary dates

   Your username

■    The word server

   Any text or label on the PC or monitor

■    Your company’s name

   Your occupation

■    Your favorite color

■    Any of the above with a leading number

■    Any of the above with a trailing number

■    Any of the above spelled backward

There are others, but these are the most commonly used weak passwords.

Using Characters to Make a Strong Password

Difficult-to-crack passwords do not have to be difficult to remember and include a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters (not just letters, not just numbers, not just special characters, but a combination of all three). Special characters are those that cannot be considered letters or numbers (for example, $ % л # @). An example of a strong password is tqbf4#jotld. Such a password may look hard to remember, but it is not. The following sentence uses every letter in the English alphabet: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Take the first letter of each word, put the number 4 and a pound (#) symbol in the middle, and you have a strong password.

To consistently get strong passwords, you can use auditing tools, such as a crack program that tries to guess passwords. If you use strong passwords, the crack program should have great difficulty guessing a password. Use special characters and numbers in the middle of the password, for example, under43gate@w#ay. Do not use just a regular word preceded or ended by a special character. Good crack programs strip off the leading and trailing characters in their decryption attempts.

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