Definition Wednesday: What is a passphrase?

A password is a string of characters used to access information or a computer. Passphrases are typically longer than passwords, for added security, and contain multiple words that create a phrase. Passwords and passphrases help prevent unauthorized people from accessing files, programs, and other resources. When you create a password or passphrase, you should make it strong, which means it's difficult to guess or crack. It's a good idea to use a different strong password for each of your accounts.

Password cracking by criminals, such as brute force attacks, is best thwarted by additional password length. Mixing in UPPERCASE, lowercase, and special characters also helps make a passphrase harder to guess.

Check out this video from Jake Weber:

Compared to passwords

A strong password:
  • Is at least eight characters long.
  • Does not contain your username, real name, or company name.
  • Does not contain a complete word.
  • Is significantly different from previous passwords.
A strong passphrase:
  • Is 20 to 30 characters long.
  • Is a series of words that create a phrase.
  • Does not contain common phrases found in literature or music.
  • Does not contain words found in the dictionary.
  • Does not contain your username, real name, or company name.
  • Is significantly different from previous passwords or passphrases.
Last Updated: August 23, 2016