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Passphrases 101

It’s clear we’re living in a digital renaissance. Just over a decade ago, the Internet was mostly used for chatting with friends and watching funny videos. Now, we do all those things plus more serious ones like running our businesses and personal lives using digital services. Today, you can instantly create and share a profits spreadsheet in one tab and order a pizza to reward yourself in another. But for every convenience digital services offer us, there is an ever-present obstacle: creating and remembering all of those passwords.

In 2019, it’s estimated that computer users have nearly 200 digital accounts between their work and personal systems, each requiring an individual login. When you add in that 59% of people forget their passwords to an individual account 1 to 5 times in a year and that 80% of breaches can be traced back to cracked passwords, it becomes clear we’re facing issues of cybersecurity and our own sanity.

To pile on, Hackers are getting better at decrypting login information, which is bad news for the 25% of people who still report using less secure passwords (i.e. “qwerty,” “12345,” or any single word with numbers or punctuation added). So how are we supposed to combat these attacks and keep our data safe?

We have a simple answer: passphrases.

What’s the Difference Between Passphrases and Passwords?

The biggest advantage of a passphrase is in its name: it’s a phrase or sentence rather than just one or two words. Hackers might be getting better at guessing simple words based on trends or specific information they might know about an individual, but by adding multiple words in a string greatly reduces the chances they’ll make a correct guess.

Take this blog post for instance – many authors could have written it, all of them sharing the same message, but the probability they would express themselves using the same words is extremely low.

Another benefit of passphrases is their memorability. Creating a simple sentence to associate with each account is easier to remember than trying to recall a series of random numbers, letters, and punctuation. Many online services are moving towards requiring passphrases due to these benefits. You might even get rid of the risky notepad containing all your bank and other account information.

So, How do I Create a Secure Passphrase?

As a general rule, the longer and more personalized or specific your passphrase is, the better. And don’t forget to use spaces!

While something like “i love my dog” will be stronger than a traditional password, personalizing it to “i love my golden retriever named spot” makes a significant improvement. By using this passphrase for an account related to your pet makes it easier to remember as well.

Passphrases also improve with the addition of capitalizations and numbers, just like traditional passwords. This helps them meet complex rules required by various accounts and, again, make your passphrase more secure. For example, a good passphrase for your SmartFile account might be: “I trust SmartFile to Keep My Data Secure in 2019!

Now you have all the tips you need to get started securing your data with passphrases. We’re going to get this blog posted and then order ourselves a celebratory pizza.

SmartFile is a business file mangement platform that gives you more control, compliance and security.