With so many different online accounts (banking, e-mail, etc.), it’s important to create strong passwords to keep your accounts and personal information safe. While you may use the first thing that comes to mind when prompted to create a new password, it’s worth the extra time and effort to create a hack-proof password. So what’s the criteria to keep hackers out and keep your accounts safe? Here are six expert recommendations on how to create strong passwords.
1. The Longer the Better
While shorter passwords are easier to think of and remember, longer passwords are much safer.
So what’s the ideal password length? Many online experts agree, your password should be a minimum of 12 characters.
2. Use Letters, Numbers, Symbols, and Capitals
We’ve all heard the jokes: “Your password must contain an uppercase letter, a number, a hieroglyph, a feather from a hawk, and the blood of a unicorn.”
It may seem like that when you’re trying to hit all the password criteria for a given site, but a password with mixed characters is much harder to guess or crack!
Also, don’t just use a word or phrase and numbers at the end; mix the numbers and symbols in with the letters. Try spelling a word backwards or substituting numbers for letters.
3. Don’t Use the Same Password for Multiple Accounts
Does this seem like a no brainer to you? According to HubSpot, out of 2,000 people in the U.S. and the U.K., almost three-quarters of consumers use the same password for multiple accounts.
When you use the same password for different accounts, you put yourself at risk; if one password is stolen, hackers and cybercriminals can access all of your accounts.
Multiple passwords can be hard to remember, PC Mag recommends adding the first three letters of the site to the end of your password.
So if your password is yit3nu1oy, you could use yit3nu1oyAMA for Amazon and yit3nuqoyGMA for Gmail.
4. Don’t Use Personal Information
Basic information, like your pet’s name or family members’ names, are easier to find than you think; don’t use these as your passwords.
Also, avoid using these types words or phrases as your security questions on your account. Create your own security question and make it something that’s not easy to find.
5. Avoid Real (Dictionary) Words
Hackers and password crackers run scripts that plug in different words and word combinations, so common, Dictionary words aren’t hard to crack.
Choose a password with at least one capital letter in the middle of the phrase, one space, one number, and one symbol.
6. Update Your Passwords Regularly
You’ve created the strongest, most hack-proof password ever, so now you will keep it for all eternity, right? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s important to update your passwords, regularly.
Change your important passwords, like the ones you use for your bank accounts, every one or two months.
Luckily, now you know how to create strong passwords, so you’ll have no problem coming up with new ones!
How to Remember Your Passwords
The only problem with a long, complex password is it’s much harder to remember. You can write down your passwords, but make sure you keep your cheat sheet in a place that’s not easily accessible (not on a sticky note on your computer and not in your desk drawer at the office). Also, don’t save your passwords in a document on your computer.
Another option is to use a password manager. A password manager stores your login information and encrypts your password database. You only have to remember one master password to access all of your accounts. This is also a much safer option than storing your passwords in your Internet browser.
What tips do you have for creating and storing passwords? We want to hear from you, let us know in the comments below!
For younity, she writes how-to articles and blogs about tech, media, mobile apps, and online privacy and security. She has also written on sports, fitness, and nutrition.
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