How Safe Are Password Generators?

Guy using one of the password generators

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Nothing is more frustrating than creating new passwords. You want a strong one, but trying to string together 12 or more characters, numbers, or letters that can be remembered becomes challenging. A strong password generator may be the answer.  

Although coming up with strong passwords can be annoying, it’s essential for cyber safety. A 2020 study found that compromised credentials such as username and password accounted for all social-engineered data breaches. Once bad actors have breached credentials, they can hijack an account or steal an identity. That’s why strong passwords are vital to cybersecurity.

Let’s look at whether password generators are secure, plus how a random password generator can make creating passwords less frustrating and more secure.

What Makes a Secure Password?

A secure password is one that is hard for hackers to guess. The randomness of the letters and the length of the password add to its complexity. Add in capital letters and a few numbers and your password increases in strength. A password should adhere to the following requirements:

  • Has a minimum of eight characters
  • Uses upper and lowercase letters
  • Includes numbers and symbols
  • Does not tie to personal information
  • Does not use dictionary words

Most people are aware of these guidelines but do not follow them. For example, the most common password is 123456, followed by 123456789. The word “password” is the fourth most used. 

Weak passwords incorporate names, words, or birth dates that are easy for hackers to guess. Once hackers have stolen credentials, they can get to a credit card number or bank account. Using a password generator can help provide complex and random passwords that minimize the risk of exposure. 

What Is a Password Generator?

Password generators are computer programs, hardware devices, or online tools that produce a string of characters, numbers, and symbols from user-entered parameters. Most generators give users the ability to specify password requirements such as length, letter case, and symbols. If a password manager tool is included with the generation tool, passwords can be stored and retrieved when needed.

Password generator programs may be online or a separate application that runs on a local computer. Some solutions offer both types of programs. Whether online or running locally, password generators are designed to create long passwords that are hard for hackers to guess. To choose the best solution requires an understanding of how password generators work.

the password input spot

How Does a Random Password Generator Work?

The most basic solution is a random password generator. Here are a few facts to keep in mind about the tool and how it operates:

  • The basic tool usually asks for the password length.
  • Some ask for a seed number, which is a random value that is used in a pseudo-random algorithm to generate passwords. 
  • More sophisticated tools will let you specify the requirements for a strong password, such as using numbers and symbols. 
  • Once you have the password, the user is responsible for remembering and securing it. 
  • If you want the generator to store passwords, you will need a password manager, although some generators include a manager.

Password managers store encrypted passwords associated with a given website, device, or entity. When the password is needed, the user enters identifying information, and the password is returned “in-the-clear.” The user enters the password. Some password managers will insert the password within the application so users do not have to enter a long string of characters.

Factors That Impact the Safety of Password Generators

There are several factors to consider when looking for a strong password generator such as how and when the password is generated. Another concern is whether an online generator retains the random passwords. 

  1. Online Generators

Search the internet for password generators and you’ll find dozens of sites offering a free password generator. The problem with online tools is what is the company doing with the passwords. When passwords are generated what information is stored? Does the site keep a copy of passwords? All it takes is one successful attack for passwords to be all over the internet.

  1. Possible Entry Errors

Both online and local tools that generate random passwords are inconvenient. After passwords are generated, they must be copied into the application or website. Then, the value has to be stored somewhere for later use. Cutting and pasting may not be possible in all cases. Having to enter a password manually increases the chance of data entry errors, especially if the password is long.

  1. Secure Storage

Password manager solutions often incorporate a strong password generator. This solution generates a password and then encrypts it for storing within the password management tool. A cloud-based tool means that strong passwords are available across all devices and platforms. 

Management tools can also be installed locally. If installed on a laptop or computer, random passwords will only be available on that device. Some password manager solutions operate online and locally.

How to Create Robust Security Plans

Now that you have secure passwords, it’s time to look at other security concerns such as old or unused media. This is because:

  • Old files take up space.

If you’re paying storage fees removing unused files frees up space.

  • Keeping old files poses a security risk.

Should a breach occur personal information on old files could be compromised. Bad actors could gain access to account numbers or answers to security questions stored on unused files.

  • Retaining multiple file versions wastes time.

With more than one copy, employees do not know which version is correct. Time is wasted trying to determine which file to use. Or, a file is chosen at random that contains inaccurate information about products or services. 

Most people are aware that deleting files does not remove them. They know tools exist for the recovery and restoration of deleted files, but there are ways to permanently remove stored media.Shredding files is as easy as deleting them, so long as you have the right shredding device to make the process permanent and secure. Contact Shred Cube today to speak with an expert about password security and how to delete your digital files for good.

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