Choosing Strong Passwords

Passwords are used every day for a variety of reasons, and choosing strong passwords is crucial in protecting your privacy.

Here are 10 tips to help you create effective passwords:

  1. Use a number and / or punctuation
  2. Change your password every few months
  3. Use different passwords for different sites
  4. Always use at least eight characters
  5. Mix uppercase and lowercase letters
  6. Use a phrase with no spaces (but don’t use proper spelling, i.e. ‘dictionary words’)
  7. Use multiple words strung together separated by punctuation
  8. Never use personal information (such as your name, someone you know, etc.)
  9. Never use common single words
  10. Never share your passwords with anyone

Here are some great links for more information on effective passwords:

The GW Identity Access Management system is designed to enforce a strong password policy. More information on this policy may be obtained within the GW Account Management Tool Login Help page. 


A typical password-cracking program running on a fast personal computer can guess 10,000,000 passwords per second. If the password uses all available types of characters on a keyboard:

  • A 4-character password has 85 million possible combinations and would take the program only 8.5 seconds to guess.
  • A 6-character password increases the possible combinations 782 billion would take up 22 hours to guess.
  • An 8-character password provides 7.2 quadrillion combinations and would take up to 23 years to guess.

Review calculations from a 96 Characters/Class D attack chart.