Three free password strength web sites

September 14, 2012 Comments Off on Three free password strength web sites

As our data increasingly moves online, creating, managing, and using passwords is more important than ever before. Getting a password stolen – or decrypted by an unauthorized third party – can be very painful. Things are much worse if your broken password unlocks lots of doors. For this reason, it’s extremely unwise to use the same password for different websites, since a breach at one site exposes you everywhere. With this in mind, it’s smarter to create distinct passwords for each web site, application, email service, and so on. However, given the proliferation of online resources, many people must manage dozens of different logins, and some have many more. For example, I maintain nearly 200 different passwords.

When it comes to setting up passwords, there’s a perception that a strong password is hard to create – and even more difficult to remember. This is why I use a third party password management tool. There are many on the market, but I like Callpod Keeper. It’s up to you to set a master password, but once you’ve done that Keeper will generate passwords for each site you visit. Another choice is to simply create your own passwords on a site-by-site basis and store them in Keeper.

Regardless of where and how you create your password, it’s natural to wonder how secure it is. Believe it or not, it will often take a brute force decryption attack longer to break an easy-to-remember phrase than a short, unmemorable, cryptic password. To help you gauge the relative strengths of your passwords, take a look at each of these helpful sites:

1. How Big is Your Haystack? This site is from Gibson Research, provider of many excellent networking and security utilities.

2. Dropbox’ zxcvbn password strength estimator. This utility was created as a companion piece to a really well written blog post. I like how this utility shows you play-by-play of how a brute force attack might be launched against your password.

3. How Secure is My Password? Color-coding (red is bad, green is good) adds a nice visual effect that tells you how long it will take to break your password.

As you experiment with these sites, I recommend trying a variety of passwords and phrases. Don’t forget to thrown in special characters, uppercase, numbers and so on.

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