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Three Random Words Make Better Passwords, Say NCSC

By 19th August 2021Blog2 min read

Government cyber experts have said that is it better to create passwords for online accounts made up of three random words, as opposed to a complex combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently posted in a blog that a three-word system creates passwords that are easy to remember, and the unusual combination of letters means that the passwords are strong enough to ensure online accounts are secure from cybercriminals.

The experts added that more complex passwords can be ineffective, as their makeup can be guessed by criminals using specialist software, and by targeting predictable strategies that are meant to make passwords more complex, for instance, substituting the letter O with a zero, or the number one with an exclamation mark.

The software used for hacking by cybercriminals allow for such patterns, and the NCSC said that the enforcement for complexity in passwords has counterintuitively created more predictable passwords.

However, passwords made up of three random words tend to be longer and harder to predict, and the used letter combinations make it more difficult for hacking algorithms to detect.

The experts nattier that the three random words method was not 100 per cent secure, as it can depend on the words chosen, and how predictable they are, but said that the system had a major advantage in its usability, adding that ‘security that’s not usable doesn’t work’.

Cybercrime has soared during the pandemic, with online fraud rising 70 per cent over the past year, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

NCSC’s technical director, Dr Ian Levy, said: “Traditional password advice telling us to remember multiple complex passwords is simply daft. There are several good reasons why we decided on the three random words approach – not least because they create passwords that are both strong and easier to remember.

“By following this advice, people will be much less vulnerable to cybercriminals and I’d encourage people to think about the passwords they use on their important accounts, and consider a password manager.”


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