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How to test password strength using these free tools

password strength
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/scyther5)

Cyberattacks are growing more sophisticated every year, and strong passwords are just one part of a wider approach needed to keeping your information safe. On the other hand, poor passwords are one of the most common weak links in organizational security, and many people don’t realize how easy their passwords are to crack.

In this article, we’ll take a look at five of the best options for testing your password strength online. The process only takes a minute or two, and it can help you protect your accounts and data. Developing better passwords is one of the easiest ways to improve your online security.

NordPass

NordPass is developed by the same team that’s behind NordVPN, and its password strength checker is just as effective. You can access the password strength tool without creating an account or starting a subscription. That said, Nordpass is a good app to consider if you’re looking for a way to securely store and share passwords.

password strength

Nordpass looks for your password in past data breaches to make sure it hasn’t been compromised (Image credit: Nordpass)

NordPass uses a number of criteria to evaluate your password, including length and the presence of symbols, numbers, and both uppercase and lowercase letters. It then uses that information to generate an estimated time to crack, but it’s worth mentioning that these estimates aren’t an exact science. The service also checks previous data breaches to verify that your password isn’t already compromised.

The University of Illinois at Chicago Password Strength Test

We tested a number of password strength tools, but the University of Illinois at Chicago Password Strength Test was undoubtedly the most comprehensive. It provides fine-grained analysis that covers every aspect of each password, making it easy to identify weaknesses and make the necessary adjustments.

password strength

The UIC Password Strength Test analyzes each password using 16 criteria (Image credit: The University of Illinois at Chicago)

The website has a basic list of requirements, including length (eight or more characters), character diversity (one capital letter, one lowercase letter, and one number or punctuation), and no repeating patterns, dictionary worms, or common names. There’s also a thorough list covering other best practices, such as creating a unique password for new accounts rather than using the same one for every website.

UIC differentiates its password strength checker from other tools through its helpful analysis. While most sites use a few factors to check each password, UIC uses a total of 16. You’ll be able to identify common mistakes, like repetition or consecutive numbers, that most tools don’t look for. Unfortunately, the UIC password strength tool doesn’t look at data breaches, so you’ll need to check Nordpass or another site if you want that information.

Kaspersky

Like NordPass, Kaspersky’s password strength tool comes from an established player in online security. Kaspersky has a wide range of other services, including antivirus software and virtual private networks (VPNs). You can check your password strength on the website without signing up or downloading an application.

password strength

Kaspersky doesn’t always offer helpful advice on how to improve a given password, especially compared to the UIC password strength checker (Image credit: Kapersky)

While Kaspersky offers decent analysis, it doesn’t quite match up to UIC’s comprehensive reporting. Adding an explanation point to a password was enough to make it “hack-resistant,” but there wasn’t any detailed information about the password’s strength and weaknesses. That said, Kaspersky goes beyond UIC by checking for passwords in previous breaches.

Comparitech

Comparitech is an online security firm that sells cloud storage, antivirus solutions, VPNs, and other common tools. Like the other services on this list, Comparitech provides password strength tests through its website rather than requiring users to sign up or download an application.

Data is often targeted while in transit, so Comparitech never transfers your information to its servers. The password strength tool works locally and comes with many of the same insights available with other providers. Comparitech will flag length, character similarities, dictionary words, and other common issues.

password strength

The Comparitech password strength test processes data locally rather than transmitting it to Comparitech’s servers (Image credit: Comparitech)

Comparitech does better than most sites when it comes to analyzing passwords. Even though it doesn’t offer a single overall score, it still provides more detailed information than Kaspersky and some other services.

After entering a password, you’ll receive an estimated time to crack, along with a list of weaknesses. Comparitech also conveniently offers a password generator in case you want to start using stronger passwords. Remember to use a unique password for each of your accounts.

LastPass

LastPass is a popular password manager for iOS and Android users. Like Nordpass, LastPass offers a premium subscription, but the password strength test is available for free on the LastPass website. The tool works locally, so your information won’t be transmitted to LastPass servers.

password strength

LastPass provides an overall evaluation, along with tips to improve your password (Image credit: Lastpass)

While LastPass provides more information than Kaspersky, it isn’t as detailed as some of the other alternatives. It also doesn’t check information from previous data breaches, which can help you avoid using a password that’s already compromised. 

Overall, LastPass is an excellent password manager, but it isn’t quite as effective at evaluating potential passwords. UIC offers the most thorough analysis, and other sites stand out from LastPass by looking at data breaches. That said, LastPass is a sufficiently helpful option for most use cases.

Conclusion

Even if you know that capital letters, symbols, and length can make a password stronger, it can be tough to evaluate your own passwords and keep your information secure. These are just a few of the best sites to use if you want to check the strength of an existing or potential password.