Making safer passwords

Uh-oh. Time to change my passwords. Guess I better stop using “password1”.
Secure Passwords Keep You Safer

According to Eric Thompson of AccessData, a typical password consists of a root plus an appendage. A root isn’t necessarily a dictionary word, but it’s something pronounceable. An appendage is either a suffix (90 percent of the time) or a prefix (10 percent of the time).
So the first attack PRTK performs is to test a dictionary of about 1,000 common passwords, things like “letmein,” “password1,” “123456” and so on. Then it tests them each with about 100 common suffix appendages: “1,” “4u,” “69,” “abc,” “!” and so on. Believe it or not, it recovers about 24 percent of all passwords with these 100,000 combinations.
PRTK also runs a four-character-string exhaustive search. It runs the dictionaries with lowercase (the most common), initial uppercase (the second most common), all uppercase and final uppercase. It runs the dictionaries with common substitutions: “$” for “s,” “@” for “a,” “1” for “l” and so on. Anything that’s “leet speak” is included here, like “3” for “e.”
The appendage dictionaries include things like:

  • All two-digit combinations
  • All dates from 1900 to 2006
  • All three-digit combinations
  • All single symbols
  • All single digit, plus single symbol
  • All two-symbol combinations