If you aren’t using cryptographically-strong passwords by now, you’re late. Trusting LastPass is not for everyone. No matter how much security software you have installed, a secure password is always going to be the foundation of basic online security and you’ve got to get used to it.
A few years ago, I went through a phase where I spent several hours in a single day revising all of my passwords and changing them on every site that I regularly use. Today, not a single one of my important accounts on the Internet have a password under 16 characters. Length isn’t the only strength of a solid password, and I’d like to show you a tool that will make sure you’re able to generate a secure one.
It’s my opinion that PWGen is the best password-generation tool out there not only because of the methodology, but it provides us with freedom. A lot of password generators are a point-and-click tool that generate a randomized string of characters and numbers. Maybe it’ll let you pick how long the password is, but that’s it. Passwords are more than that to you and I.
On the face of the application, you’re immediately able to see how specific the generation can get. You can generate both passwords and passphrases.
With passwords, you’re able to set a length and determine the set of characters that can be used. This will allow you to create passwords of just one casing (upper or lower) or a password without numbers in it, for example. To the right of the field, you are able to see two icons which, from left to right, allow you to see the details of your current character set or access a small help menu.
This menu gives you all of the information you need to set up proper formatting for your passwords. Here are a few examples of types of passwords that you can randomly generate:
- Prc8nB2d06kU (alphanumeric)
- 4oC0f803ikiqF5 (base64)
- 91978b65f2d8d576 (hex)
- K9JUsvupzVkn9ezn (easy to read, no ambiguous characters)
- *;@}^%>}}?,& (symbols only)
Passphrases are totally different and are definitely a more uncommon form of security. Generating a passphrase is as simple as loading a word list and clicking a button. You can find word lists all over the Internet, and these are basically just text files with newlines between each word in a list (hence the name).
The icon of the magnifying glass, on the interface, allows you to browse for a word list. Otherwise, you can use the default list that ships with PWGen. It’s a list of 8,192 words. Here are a few examples of some generated phrases from the default list:
- leery grad bobbin rater payne
- neil trash wont 2u oasis
- quad boggy lr stingy gunny
You’re also able to generate a large list of passwords at a single time for display or to immediately save to a text file.
The application’s advanced options really allow you to refine the password generator methods so that everything is exactly the way you want it.
Being able to immediately exclude ambiguous characters is the type of extensiveness that a lot of simple generators would leave out. If the included ambiguous characters aren’t enough, you’re able to redefine the entire set.
Another option that stands out is the ability to prevent words in a passphrase from being separated by a space. This will essentially allow you to create passwords that are actually just a phrase strung together. Perhaps not the most secure option, but an interesting one nonetheless.
The last feature I want to highlight, and maybe one of the most interesting and unique, is the ability to create profiles for individual configurations.
How this can be useful is as limited to what your purposes may be. However, let’s say you wanted to consistently generate passwords or passphrases for one specific website that does not allow special characters and symbols to be included in the password. Knowing that, you can configure each field and option in the application, bring up the profile editor, and save this profile so that you can load it later. That way, you can easily play with PWGen without having to constantly redo old configurations over again.
PWGen takes password generation seriously and really picks up where other password generator alternatives may fall short. For some, PWGen may seem a little intimidating and too deep, but it’s incredibly easy to use and puts you in complete control of its options.