Need a secure password? A bishop says to page through the Bible

If you think people of the cloth are out of touch with modern technology, think again. A bishop of the Church of England just gave his congregation some security advice; if you want a hard-to-crack password that you’ll remember, pick a passage in the Bible. A security expert thinks the Church leader might be on to something.

Instead of the lame, unsecure passwords so many of us use (password123, I’m looking at you), Right Reverend James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester in England told his congregation to use phrases from the New Testament, The Register reported.

“The Bible offers a life-long source of new passwords, that can include both upper and lower case letters and numbers to help create memorable, secure passwords,” said Langstaff.

The bishop’s advice for creating such a password involves picking a favorite biblical verse, taking the first letter from each word, and adding the chapter and verse number to the end. For example, Psalms 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” would be ETIWTTVOTSODIWFNE234.

While the bishop’s advice is well-intended, we wanted run the idea by a security expert to see if it’s smart to use Bible verses as passwords.

“I thought the idea [from the bishop] was quite clever, anything you can to make it easier to remember a complex password is good advice, and any time you can throw numbers it makes it more complex,” said David Marcus, direct of threat intelligence at McAfee.

Longer passphrases are always preferable because they are much harder to hack. There is a mathematical formula associated with cracking a password, says Marcus. Longer passwords and passphrases aren’t impossible to crack, but they take much more time that hackers often don’t want to waste.

“I always push people towards passphrases, which can be 250 characters with spaces, almost twice as long as a tweet,” Marcus said. “You can choose a phrase from a song or line from a poem and the passphrase will be darn near impossible to crack.”

So instead of taking the first letter of each word, just use the entire verse, spaces and all. Also include the chapter and verse number to make the passphrase more complex. But beware, if you pick one of your favorite verses, people might clue in to that and uncover your password. Hackers can easily find information about you and if you post several biblical verses on social pages, it might give your password away.

Of course, if the Bible is not your holy book of choice, you could choose a phrase from the Old Testament, the Quran, or another tome. If you fancy yourself agnostic or atheist, you may as well use a holy verse as a password —  no one will expect you to use it.

There is still a heated debate about what makes for a safe password, random words strung together, words with letter replaced by characters and numbers, or phrases of familiar words. You might as well give a biblical verse passphrase a try, just don’t advertise to others which verse is your favorite.

Bible with key image via Shutterstock

0 comments