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Guidance for Selecting an Easy to Remember, Strong Passphrase

1. Choose a password that you can remember so that you don’t need to keep looking it up.  This reduces the chance of somebody discovering where you have it written down.

Select a phrase like:

Mary had a little lamb

Add a capital L, numbers and a special character to increase its strength:

Mary1had a Littlelamb.5

This phrase is easy to remember and more secure by: adding the numbers (1 and 5), capitalizing a letter (L), omitting a space (between Littlelamb), and including the special character(.).

Some other versions:

2Mary hadalittle

2. If your password is derived from sources like a well known song, expression, or slogan, be sure to customize it with misspelling, numbers, special characters, mnemonics, made up words.

3. Use a mixture of upper and lower case letters

4. Introduce silent characters into the word (i.e., Va7ni9lla)

5. Intentionally misspell words (i.e., Choklutt – for chocolate)

6. Do not use any personal identification type of information (i.e., social security number, date of birth, username, account name, computer name, or email address)

Do not include:

your name
your spouse’s name
your parent’s name
your pet’s name
your child’s name
names of close friends or coworkers
name of your favorite fantasy characters
your boss’s name
the name of the operating system you’re using
the hostname of your computer
your phone number
your license plate number
any part of your social security number
birth dates
other information that is easily obtained about you
any username on the computer in any form (as is, capitalized, etc)
passphrases of all the same letter
simple patterns on the keyboard, like qwerty …

Do include:

embedded extra characters in a word
special characters
misspelled words (i.e., buckarew or bonzaye)
unusual capitalization (i.e., capitalizing first letter of words, all but first letters…)
concatenation of two or more words or parts of words
one word in the middle of another, or interleave the letters of two words