Desktop and network security are becoming increasingly more important to keeping hackers and other unauthorized users out of your computers and your network. One step you can take to help prevent intrusions is to strengthen your password policies. Long passwords that are difficult to guess and which contain a mix of special characters, numbers, and cases can be almost impossible to guess or crack.

First, don't use passwords that contain words, and particularly don't use passwords that contain only words. These passwords are easy to crack by brute-force crackers. Second, mix special characters such as these


in your passwords along with letters and numbers. Doing so can make the password very difficult to guess. It can also make it difficult to remember, so consider using a mnemonic for your password. For example, iLpi!Wm# could be "I like pie with milk."

You can enforce some of these password restrictions for your users with group policy. The Administrative Tools/Account Policies/Password Policy branch includes a handful of policies that define and enforce password characteristics. These policies also determine how frequently a user must change his or her password and how soon the user can reuse a password.