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Online Password Security

This tutorial is part of our tutorial series on WordPress Security. In this tutorial, we look at how improving basic security practices like password security can contribute to your overall web security.


Password Security

One of the most common methods used by hackers to crack into websites, computers, servers, etc. is to run brute-force attack software persistently on login areas, looking for weak password combinations.

Many potential vulnerabilities can be avoided with good security habits. Using strong passwords is one of the first and most important security habits you can develop.

A strong password is not only necessary to protect your website, but your entire online presence. A hacker who gains access to your computer administrator account is able to install malicious scripts that can potentially compromise your entire server.

Creating A Strong Password

The goal with creating strong passwords is to make it hard for other people to guess them and hard for a brute force attack to succeed.

Strong Password Foundations

To create a strong password, keep the following in mind:

Strong Password Generators

Many password generators are available that can be used to automatically create secure passwords.

You can find free secure password generators online …

(source: freepasswordgenerator.com)

You can also create passwords using password management tools such as RoboForm

RoboForm is a powerful tool that helps you manage multiple passwords easily and access all of your logins with a single click from your desktop PC, laptop or mobile device …

To learn more about password management software, see the tutorial below:

Password Management Software

WordPress also features a password strength meter which is shown when changing your password in WordPress. Use this feature when changing your password to ensure the strength of your password is adequate …

Password Permutations

In password security terms, ‘permutation’ refers to the number of possible combinations of characters, numbers, symbols, etc. that it would take for someone to decode a password.

For example, if you have a 3-character password using only the numbers 1, 2, and 3 and they are allowed to repeat, then there are 27 possible password permutations, as shown below:

  1. 111
  2. 112
  3. 113
  4. 121
  5. 122
  6. 123
  7. 131
  8. 132
  9. 133
  10. 211
  11. 212
  12. 213
  13. 221
  14. 222
  15. 223
  16. 231
  17. 232
  18. 233
  19. 311
  20. 312
  21. 313
  22. 321
  23. 322
  24. 323
  25. 331
  26. 332
  27. 333

The permutation formula for a 3-character password where the password characters are allowed to repeat is as follows:

If your password is only three characters long, and you use all 26 characters from the English alphabet, then the number of permutations required to decode your password are as follows:

Any hacker using a brute-force attack software and a computer with minimal processing power can crack the above password in no time.

Adding just one more character to your password, however, can increase the magnitude and complexity of your password to a level that would make it significantly more difficult for hackers to crack, as shown below …

As you can see, increasing your password length by just one character makes it significantly more difficult to crack.

An 8-character password that uses all 26 letters of the English alphabet plus 10 numbers (0 – 9) creates the following number of possible combinations …

When you add in a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, plus non-alphanumeric characters (e.g. $, #, [, %,^,&,}, ~, /, *, @, etc.) to a case-sensitive password, then you can see just how significantly increased the magnitude of your password security will be.

Make sure to implement strong password security measures for all of your online access points. This includes:

Additionally, make sure to research and implement or review the following security measures in your specific setup …

Hopefully, the above will help you understand how improving basic security practices like password security can contribute to your overall web security and why using strong passwords for your online assets makes it more difficult for hackers to crack your passwords and breach your security measures.


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