According to Bloomberg Businessweek a reasonably complex 9-character password would take 44,530 years to crack. That should see me out, as well as giving me greater confidence in my 1Password-generated random passwords. The odds get rapidly lower as you reduce the length of your password. A typical six-character lowercase string taking only ten minutes to crack. I imagine that the vast majority of passwords in use fall into the six-or-less category, so beware.
One of the most common security failures is the habit of most computer users of using one simple word as a password for all their sites. Once cracked, this key can open up a person's whole life to criminal activity.
1Password works on most platforms and synchronises via Dropbox
Of course, remembering hundreds of different complex passwords is impossible for most mortals and that's why many of us use 1Password, the brilliant repository for all your private information. True to its name, 1Password needs only one password1 for you to benefit from the program's arsenal of security. Provided that your master password falls into the reasonably secure category – 9 characters with capitals, numbers and symbols – your assets are safe from prying eyes. 1Password's data file can reside in a Dropbox folder and be accessed by all your computers and your iOS devices. So any password generated for a new site is available within a few minutes wherever you happen to be working. And since you can have different random passwords for every site there is no danger of contamination if one of them ever gets cracked.
1Password enters logon details for all your sites, fills in credit card details for your purchases and even stores all your software licenses and secure information. All you need is the one master password – which you will never forget because you use it so often – to unlock this potential.
Here is Businessweek's advice on the security of passwords:
Time it takes a hacker's computer to randomly guess your password:
Length: 6 characters
Lowercase: 10 minutes
+ Uppercase: 10 hours
+ Nos. & Symbols: 18 days
Length: 7 characters
Lowercase: 4 hours
+ Uppercase: 23 days
+ Nos. & Symbols: 4 years
Length: 8 characters
Lowercase: 4 days
+ Uppercase: 3 years
+ Nos. & Symbols: 463 years
Length: 9 characters
Lowercase: 4 months
+ Uppercase: 178 years
+ Nos. & Symbols: 44,530 years
1 It is vital that if you set up a master password for 1Password you do not then use that password anywhere else. If this password is compromised anywhere on the internet (or it appears in clear anywhere on your computer) it could give a fraudster access to your 1Password file with disastrous consequences.