yossman.net - password creation help
document first created yossman/yoss.canweb.net/1996-10-25.
document last updated yossman/yossman.net/2005-07-29.

i suggest you change your password on a fairly regular basis using the 'passwd' command from your shell prompt. try to remember to change your password any time you've been accessing your account from someone else's computer, once you get back in front of the system you use most often.

it is not a good idea to assume there are no viruses or spyware or keyloggers running on a system you do not regularly use and control. these types of software are designed to capture what people type into their keyboards and forward the information to unknown third-party people, and are usually designed to be quite good at hiding their presence.

though many people often wait years before changing their passwords, and some never do, i recommend changing passwords on at minimum a yearly basis, if not every 6 months.

users should keep in mind that if any server they are on is ever compromised, it should be assumed the person who got into the server would take a copy of the password file on the system. remember, no matter how secure you've always been when connecting to a system, you can't always be certain the system itself will always be hack-free. changing your password more often decreases the chances your account will be used to later get back into that system, should they try to come back using information from that password list.

when you do make a new password, i suggest you keep the following in mind:

1. make it at least eight characters long. older systems do not look keep track of passwords longer than 8 characters under the encryption methods currently employed by most password systems, as your password gets longer, it becomes exponentially more difficult to crack (decode) with software.

2. make it as random as possible. 'barney' is an example of a stupid password. it is all lower-case, is an actual word (and a fairly common one at that), and it contains no numbers. 'Q3ds7sAc' is a pretty good password for the exact opposite reasons. see the pattern here?