Which Is More Important: Password Complexity, Or Length?

Which Is More Important: Password Complexity, Or Length?

Passwords are and have always been the most popular user authentication method; they are used to log into computers, mobile devices, networks and operating systems. In essence, they are a part of what we do every day. The requirements have changed over time. Today, most systems demand a lengthy string of characters, frequently containing numbers, special characters and a mix of upper and lower case letters. The length and complexity of a password affect its strength, but which factor is more important?

Password Length vs. Complexity 

While The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) advises that password length is more crucial than password complexity, Keeper recommends a combination of both for stronger password security.

Considerations of password length and complexity are key in the quest for the ideal password. Complexity is often seen as an important aspect of a secure password – and rightfully so. However, the length of a password also plays a significant role in making it harder to crack. Short-length passwords are relatively easy to break, so the key is to create lengthier ones for added security and to make them less predictable.

What is a Strong and Unique Password? 

Strong, unique passwords are your first line of defense against cybercriminals breaking into your online accounts and stealing your personal data.

A strong password has the following qualities:

  • At least 8 characters minimum, preferably more
  • Both uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • Both numbers and letters 
  • A minimum of one unique character, such as ! @ #?
  • Does not use sequential numbers
    For example, 12345…
  • Does not use your birthdate and birth year. This information can be obtained by cybercriminals by finding your social media accounts where your birthday is listed.

Overall, strong passwords should be long, complex and difficult to guess.

How a Password Manager Can Help

Many free password generators have the drawback of not saving your passwords; instead, they just spit them out, leaving you to remember them on your own. You can store all of your passwords in a password manager, which also provides access to them when you need them. The autofill feature of reliable password managers like Keeper fills in your login information for all of your accounts and apps.

Generating strong passwords is important, but by not storing them in a password manager like Keeper you’re putting your passwords and other personal information at risk of being compromised. 

Start your Free Trial today to start using long, complex passwords for every account.

Updated on November 1st, 2022.

Manuela Escobar Velasquez

Manuela Escobar Velasquez works in digital marketing at Keeper Security and is a cybersecurity enthusiast. She spends her time researching and learning about the latest cybersecurity news to write informational blogs and social media posts. Manuela graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a major in Communication.