It has become more crucial than ever to use strong passwords for your online accounts. Without a secure password, it’s easy for others to crack yours. It’s great if you can come up with a good password on your own, but if you are out of ideas or feel like your own ideas aren’t secure enough, you can get your computer to spit one out for you.
It’s worth the effort, so let’s get right to it. Here are five ways you can generate brand new, secure passwords you can trust.
The Automatic Password Generator, or APG for short, comes installed on all Ubuntu systems. It’s an easy to use utility which can give you various passwords based on the random input from your keyboard. For example, you can run
apg in a terminal and it will offer six “pronounceable” passwords. They’re meant to be pronounceable in order to make them somewhat more memorable, although the majority of them are still very random.
If you’d like entirely random passwords, you can run
apg -a 1, which will give you passwords with 8-10 completely random characters. Of course, this is also only after you’ve given it some random input using your keyboard.
pwgen is another utility that is just a quick installation away with the command
sudo apt-get install pwgen. Simply running the command
pwgen will flood your terminal with many passwords, so you’re just supposed to pick one at random (preferrably not the first or last one).
This is done in case someone is nearby or looking over your shoulder — that way they won’t know which password you’ve chosen out of the many that are displayed.
You can also use these flags:
-1: Gives you just one password rather than an entire screen full of them.
-s: Uses a different algorithm to make it even more secure.
-y: Add special characters to the provided password.
-0: Don’t include numbers.
-B: Don’t use characters that are hard to read, such as 1 I l or 0 O
-v: Don’t allow any vowels. This is primarily used if the website doesn’t allow offensive language to be used in passwords.
makepasswd is yet another utility that makes generating passwords very straightforward. You can install it with the command
sudo apt-get install makepasswd. From there, you can create some passwords with the command
makepasswd -count X -minchars Y, replacing X with the number of passwords you want and Y with the minimum length of each password. It is also flexible enough for other uses.
For example, a command like
makepassword -string 1234567890 -chars 4 will give you a randomized numerical-only password with only four digits, a.k.a a PIN (Personal Identification Number).
If remembering your passwords is the hardest part about using secure passwords for you, then passwordmaker will be your new best friend. You can install it with the command
sudo apt-get install passwordmaker-cli. Then, the best way to use this utility is to use the command
passwordmaker --url makeuseof.com, where you can replace makeuseof.com with another website of your choice. It will then ask you for a “Master Password” before giving you a secure one.
The good thing about this is that you can use the same Master Password and get different passwords for different sites. If you forget a password for a certain site, you can run the utility again with the same website and Master Password, and you’ll get the same secure password.
Manually with Well-Crafted Commands
Lastly, you can also try to use some well-crafted commands to make your own passwords, without having to rely on special utilities to generate them. For example, you can use the command
date +%s | sha256sum | base64 | head -c 32 ; echo to create a password, and it will always be unique because it is based on the current date, including seconds. Another example that’s easier to remember (the command, that is, and not the password it generates) is
date | md5sum.
What Do You Use For Passwords?
As you can see, there are loads of ways to generate secure passwords on Linux, so there’s no excuse not to. If you’d rather not write your passwords down and still not have to worry about remembering them, I’d definitely recommend using passwordmaker. You will thank yourself later. It’s also possible to use a password manager like LastPass to recall them for you when you need them.
If you need other ideas on how to come up with your own passwords, follow the tips from security expert Bruce Schneier.
How do you generate and remember secure passwords? What’s your perfect balance of security and convenience? Let us know in the comments!