Do Something About Your Terrible Passwords

May 8, 2017
Security Applications

People hate using strong passwords. I know plenty of professionals who use their children’s names to secure computers containing valuable client data. Nobody likes dealing with passwords, but you have a responsibility to take “digital hygiene” seriously.

Personally, I use a simple tool called pwgen whenever I need to create a new password. Pwgen is a command-line utility that basically spits out a list of “human readable” passwords. That is to say, they are easy to memorize relative to a truly random string of characters.

By default, pwgen produces a list of 160 possible passwords containing eight characters each using only letters and numbers. Here is an example from my terminal.

Passwords! Semi-random passwords!

You can alter the output using a number of command-line options. For example, if you input pwgen -sy 12 1, pwgen will produce a single, 12-character password that is completely random (-s stands for “secure”) and contains at least one symbol (-y):

    oswriter@nwt ~ $ pwgen -sy 12 1
    2=+gyBvM^!nd 

Pwgen is written by Theodore Ts’o, who is also one of the oldest Linux kernel developers. He based pwgen on a prior program by Brandon S. Allbery. Pwgen is available for Solus and just about every other Linux distribution under the GNU General Public License version 2.