The Numbers behind Password Strength

Do not fear, I’m not taking you back to math class!  Instead, I just want to demonstrate how adding more elements to your password increases its strength.

Let’s start with several examples

  1. 123456: This password is one of a million possible 6-digit numeric passwords. 
  2. abcdef: This password is one of over 308 million possible 6-character lower case passwords.
  3. AbcdeF: This password is one of over 19 billion  possible 6-character mixed case passwords.
  4. aBcd2E: This password is one of over 56 billion possible 6-character alpha-numeric mixed case passwords.
  5. a$Bc6E: This password is one of nearly 670 billion possible 6-character alpha-numeric-special character mixed case passwords.

As you can see, adding complexity increases the size of the pool out of which a password can be picked.  The other obvious way to increase the size of the pool is to increase the length of your password.  So again, looking at the same five strains of passwords, the pool size grows at an exponential rate.

  1. Each password is one of 10 million for 7-digit, 100 million for 8-digit numeric passwords.
  2. Each password is one of over 8 billion for 7-digit, 208 billion for 8-character lower case passwords.
  3. Each password is one of over 1 trillion for 7-digit, over  53 trillion for 8-character mixed case passwords.
  4. Each password is one of over 3.5 trillion for 7-digit, over 218 trillion for 8-character alpha-numeric mixed case passwords.
  5. Each password is one of over 64 trillion for 7-digit, over 6 quadrillion  for 8-character alpha-numeric-special character mixed case passwords.

I think the numbers clearly show how easy it is for you to add strength to your passwords but that’s just about enough of the numbers for now!  If you want more information as to how these numbers were determined, be sure to let me know and I’ll write The Numbers behind Password Strength – Part 2!

Please note, the sample passwords used in the examples above are meant to explain the numbers behind password strength and are in no way meant to represent good passwords.

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