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How Using Leetspeak Makes Passwords Weak

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For security reasons, most email hosting companies require that your email passwords be complex. They set up criteria calling for an 8 character minimum, using a mix of upper and lowercase letters, and requiring the use of numbers within the password. These are all great ways to improve password security – unless you are using leetspeak.

Leetspeak, or “leet” for short, is a type of online jargon in which a computer user replaces regular letters with other keyboard characters to form words phonetically. For example, if your password is ‘wireless,’ a leetspeak version of your password could be, ‘w1r3l3$$.’ In the example, ‘I’ was replaced with the number one, ‘e’ was replaced with the number three, and ‘s’ was replaced with the dollar sign. Leetspeak is a common way people can incorporate the above guidelines, while still keeping their passwords simple to remember. Sounds like the perfect way to create a password which is easy to remember and secure, right?

Wrong. Because Leetspeak is used so widely throughout the technology community, it makes passwords using the jargon ultra-predictable – and when the most common way hackers gain access to your email is by guessing your password, predictability is something you want to steer clear of. The struggle between email hosting companies and unauthorized website users will continue long into the future, but to ensure that you are protected, do your part and stick to the tried and true guidelines for password creation. To keep you password complex and avoid a potentially drawn out hacking fiasco, follow these safe password guidelines:

  • Longer passwords are better than short ones.
  • Never use your name, child's name, business name, domain name, or anything else that is easily guessable.
  • Never use the word 'password' as your password - it is the most common password used. Other common passwords are 'asdf,' '123,’ 'abcd.’
  • Use all types of characters when creating a password. Complex passwords improve email account protection.
  • Pass-phrases work better than passwords. For example, 'myRedBike' is a more secure password than 'bicycle.’
  • Use different passwords for different websites and email accounts. This prevents an unauthorized user from accessing several different accounts if one of your accounts has been compromised. To help keep track of your passwords, use one of the many password storage applications that are available online, like KeyPass or PasswordSafe.


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