I prefer pass-phrases to "pass words" for various reasons. The main one being my understanding of computer-based password cracking.
This is a subject I've studied a little bit, for reasons I won't get into.
There are PW-cracker programs out there that one can use. They can be programed with dictionary files, which will then try to "brute force" their
way into an account. Many accounts have systems in place to prevent this (which is why on some sites your login will be locked after 5 failed
attempts.) The best brute force programs, however, have ways around this. (And don't bother looking if you don't already understand, as you have
to know a little something just to set the right parameters for software like this).
As I mentioned, most of these programs can be made to check passwords on a dictionary file. There are dic files which contain all the words in a
common dictionary, and then there are specialized ones. I've seen dictionary files which contain lists of the most commonly used passwords, and I've
written custom files which will check particular words and sequences of numbers based on a particular person's interests (and of course birthdays,
The other way a program like this can function is an alphanumeric attack where it will try every possible combination (with a set of parameters which
you choose), beginning at 0000 (or wherever you choose) and ending at zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (or wherever you choose) and checking every combination in
between. This is why many sites make you combine numbers with letters. In most alpha-numeric attacks abc123 will occur much later in the search
than just abcdef or 123456.
As you can imagine, it takes time and processing power to keep trying, and failing, passwords on any account. The serious crackers will run multiple
programs (sometimes on multiple computers) to help speed things up. A real hacker could harness MANY computers for this task. That kind of thing is
way above my level of understanding. lol
Point being, however, this is the reason they tell you to change your PW often. The longer it remains the same, the greater the chance a skilled
cracker could force their way into your account.
When I am not using shorter combos of letters and numbers (for accounts which are not particularly vital to me) I enjoy using long phrases I can
or even better