Dear Lifehacker, I know it has been repeatedly recommended that one should never use common words as passwords — but is it OK to use foreign words? Perhaps not commonly spoken languages such as French or German, but not from languages such as perhaps Finnish or anglicised Chinese or Japanese? Thanks, Multilinguist
Dictionary picture from Shutterstock
We wouldn’t recommend this approach for two simple reasons. The first is that if anyone is trying to guess your password with a brute force dictionary attack, they can just as easily get hold of a word list in Finnish or anglicised Japanese as in English. Brute force attacks aren’t especially common (since most password systems restrict the number of failed attempts), but in a scenario where they might matter, choosing a non-English language is no kind of protective barrier.
The second is that the best password isn’t any kind of word that’s easy to memorise — it’s a meaningless and hard to reproduce sequence which is only used for a single purpose. That’s annoying, but it remains the best way to stay secure, so use a password manager rather than relying on your knowledge of foreign languages, however comprehensive.
Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact tab on the right.