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Protecting Your Digital Footprint: Passwords

Further explanation and resources discussed in workshops

Creating Strong and Unique Passwords

There are very few passwords you should have to memorize.  The only passwords I have memorized are my personal Apple ID, my Bronco NetID, my personal Gmail account, my Dashlane master password, and the password to a shared work KeePass file. For those passwords you must memorize:

Use four or more random words or a phrase.

Take inspiration from poetry, books, or movies:

  • HomeWizardRubySlippers (The Wizard of Oz)
  • TartsTreacleCheshireCat (Alice in Wonderland)
  • VogonFishTowelBricks (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)


Identifying Compromised Passwords

Have I Been Pwned lets you enter an email address and see if that address has been compromised in a data breach. If it has, you will be prompted to update your passwords for the relevant website. 

Password Managers for Storing Random Passwords

Every other password I use is stored in a password manager.  I use Dashlane for all of my personal accounts and I share a KeePass file with two members of my department for shared work accounts.

Why you should use a password manager

Using a password manager allows you to have incredibly strong passwords that are:

  • Random (yes, you read that right: completely random)
  • Incredibly long (32 characters works in most applications; why not try 64 characters?)
  • Unique to every site or service

Create random, unique passwords by using a random password generator:

I use the following settings when creating random passwords:

  • 32 characters (or more)
  • Include Numbers
  • Include Lowercase Letters
  • Include Uppercase Letters
  • Exclude Similar Characters
  • Exclude Ambiguous Characters