Password Haystacks

Every password you use can be thought of as a needle hiding in a haystack. After all searches of common passwords and dictionaries have failed, an attacker must resort to a “brute force” search – ultimately trying every possible combination of letters, numbers and then symbols until the combination you chose, is discovered.

Developed by security expert Steve Gibson, president of California-based Gibson Research, growing the haystack takes advantage of the ways hackers crack passwords. 

To foil that part of the process, Steve Gibson suggests starting with a phrase that’s short but not a common word. That forces the hacker to resort to the slower brute-force approach by trying every combination in existence, which is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Once you’ve accomplished that, “the length of the password matters more than its absolute complexity,” Gibson says. In other words, make the haystack larger by padding the password with numerous easy-to-remember symbols.

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