Creating a strong password is the easiest and cheapest way to make sure your data is safe. Learn how to create strong passwords here.
Do you get frustrated with all of the requirements for passwords? One site requires you to use a special character while another doesn’t allow it. A password works fine for one site but isn’t strong enough for another.
While those requirements might seem annoying, they’re meant to help you create a strong password that’s less likely to be hacked. But those requirements are often just the minimum, and you can go a lot deeper to make your password strong and challenging to hack. Putting the effort into strengthening passwords can protect you from having your personal information, identity, or financial information stolen.
Keep reading to learn how to create a strong password.
Check for Previous Breaches
It’s best not to reuse passwords anyway, but if you’re considering bringing back an old password, make sure it hasn’t been compromised. Check all of your current passwords to see if they need to be changed. Several options, such as Google Password Checkup and Firefox Monitor, let you check to see if your information is part of online data breaches.
Never reuse a password that you know has been breached. Avoid using similar passwords as well, such as slightly varying the compromised password.
Avoid Common or Obvious Passwords
Generic yet obvious passwords, such as “password,” or sequential numbers or letters make bad passwords. Avoid both alphabetical letter orders and the order of letters on the keyboard, such as “qwerty.” These obvious combinations are very easy to hack.
Skip Personal Information
On a personal level, avoid using any of your own details in your passwords. People can easily find out these details through conversations, basic Google searches, and reviews of your social media.
Leave the following out of your passwords:
- Kids’ names
- Pets’ names
- Street names
- High school
- Birth city
If it’s something you might talk about or post about online, don’t use it as part of your password.
Longer passwords are much more difficult to hack than shorter ones. When a hacker uses a brute force attack, they use a computer program to try all possible combinations. If you have a much longer password, it takes longer to crack the password because the program goes through shorter possibilities first.
Websites often require a minimum of six to eight characters, but don’t stop there. Go longer to create a more complex phrase. There’s no set minimum unless a website sets one, but using at least 12 to 14 characters is a good start.
Use Words That Don’t Make Sense
Even a long password is easier to hack if it’s a single word or a logical phrase that naturally goes together. Famous quotes or lines from movies are examples of a bad choice since the words are known to go together. Words from the dictionary also make bad passwords.
You might think simply putting some numbers in place of letters in common phrases does the trick, but those passwords are still easier to hack. For example, “P@s$w0rd” might seem more secure since you replaced letters in “password” with symbols and numbers, but it’s still a bad choice.
You make it more challenging when the words in your phrase don’t go together. To make a nonsense password easier for you to remember, start with a sentence or phrase that makes sense. Then, use the first one or two letters from each word to create the password.
If your sentence is, “Savannah, Georgia is my favorite city on the East coast,” your password could be “SaGeismyfacionthEaco.” The password looks like total nonsense, but you can remember it because it represents the sentence you created. Make it even more complex by adding in numbers and special characters.
Include Different Characters
Many websites require you to use a mix of character types, but some have fewer requirements. Take it upon yourself to include a mix of characters to make the password more complex.
Letters might make up the majority of your password, but you can still switch them up. Include a mix of upper case and lower case letters to make it more complex.
Add numbers to your password. Include symbols if the site allows them in passwords.
Create Different Passwords for Different Sites
Statistics show that 52% of people use the same password for more than one account and 13% of people use the same one for all accounts. It might seem like a smart way to remember your password, but it puts all of your accounts at risk.
If one of your accounts gets hacked, your password is now stolen. The hacker can potentially hack all of the other accounts using that same password. Compromised email and password combinations might be sold or posted online, where more people can potentially find your other accounts.
It might seem like a pain, but creating a completely unique password for every account is best. Avoid making only a minor change, such as changing one number or symbol, when creating different passwords for other sites.
Set Up Two-Factor Authentication
Even with secure passwords, it’s still possible for them to get hacked. You can still safeguard your accounts if you have two-factor authentication enabled on the account.
When you log into your account, the system might ask you if the device you’re using is a trusted device. If it is, you can simply enter your password when using that device to access your account.
If a hacker figure out your password and tries to use it from a different device, the website or app doesn’t recognize it as a trusted device. Two-factor authentication forces that person to prove they should have access to the account by providing another piece of information. That could be an answer to a security question or a one-time code sent to your phone or email address.
Use a Password Manager
One way to keep your password safe for every account is to use a password manager. These programs store all of your unique passwords for you, so you don’t have to remember multiple passwords. You simply need your master password to access all of them.
Some password managers also provide random keyword generators for you. They create very complicated passwords that are much more difficult to hack. Since the password manager stores it for you, it doesn’t matter how difficult it is to remember.
Create a Strong Password
When you create a unique, strong password for every account, you decrease your chances of having your personal and financial information compromised. Making passwords difficult to hack isn’t difficult when you know what to avoid.
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