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Updated: May 13, 2024 Know How

Does password complexity really matter?

When it comes to creating a password for online accounts, we are often advised to use complex passwords to keep our accounts secure. However, with the advent of multi-factor authentication, some users wonder if password complexity really matters. While a strong password can help keep your account safe, there are certain scenarios where password complexity matters less or not at all.

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Photo | Courtesy of ClearCom IT Solutions
Rob Cleary is CEO of ClearCom It Solutions in Sturbridge. Reach him at

When creating a password for an online account containing sensitive information or an account you want to protect from hackers, you’ll want to increase the complexity of your password.

Complex passwords

The best passwords combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters in a random sequence to create a unique and complex password. Complex passwords are typically more challenging for hackers to guess or crack. It makes it more difficult for them to access your account and potentially steal your sensitive data or engage in malicious activities. Every extra character in your password increases hackers’ difficulty in cracking it. In addition, using unique passwords for each account can further enhance your security, reducing the likelihood of multiple accounts being compromised if one password is compromised.

Using complex passwords in conjunction with multi-factor authentication can further protect your personal information and prevent unauthorized access. Ideally, you want to set this up for your email and banking account information.

Password managers

You can use a password manager, such as 1Password, to store all your complex passwords, so you don’t have to worry about memorizing them. You’ll only need to remember a single master password to access all your login information stored in the password manager. This master password should be something you won’t forget but hard for someone to guess or hack. A multi-word passphrase would be ideal for use as your master password.


Passphrases are longer phrases made up of random words or words meaningful to you. They are generally easier to remember and type than a string of random characters, but they can still be complex and challenging to guess.

Less complex password use

On the flip side, there are a few situations where password complexity is less critical. For example, password complexity is less important if you need to create a password for an account not containing sensitive information, such as pet-related sites, or if you need a password for offline accounts. In this case, a shorter, easy-to-remember password may be sufficient. Although, it’s still important to avoid using easily guessable information like your name, birthdate, or common dictionary words as your password.

Wrapping up

In summary, password complexity still matters, even when using multi-factor authentication. Having a complex password is still essential to keeping your accounts secure, as it makes it harder for malicious actors to guess or brute force your password. Additionally, multi-factor authentication is not a substitute for a strong password. It simply adds an additional layer of security.

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