How to create a strong password
Making and using a strong password can help to keep your accounts secure from hackers. Far too many of us make one or two passwords that we reuse over and over. We might then use them for multiple accounts or devices simply because we can remember them. While this convenience certainly makes it easier for us, it can put our accounts at risk. Hackers can use phishing scams or try to use brute force to crack your passcodes. Luckily, there are a few strategies that can help you create strong passwords.
Am I already using strong passwords?
First, let’s consider the makeup of the passwords you are already using.
Is your password “password”?
- Are you using the password 1-2-3-4-5 to unlock your iPhone?
- Do you find yourself recycling your passwords over and over again?
- Are you using your name, the name of someone close to you, or the name of a pet?
- Is your birth date or social security number in your password?
- Could your password be hacked by skimming your social media for clues?
So, if you answered yes to any of these questions. Then, it’s time to strengthen your passwords!
What to aim for when creating a strong password
Whether you are creating new passwords or updating old, weaker passwords, the following tips can help you.
- Create long passwords – they are harder to crack! Aim for at least 12 characters.
- Use unique passwords for each of your accounts.
- Craft a unique combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Bonus tip: alternate between lowercase and uppercase letters.
- Check to see if you can use 2-Factor authentication. This is especially relevant for accounts that contain sensitive data.
- For those who just can’t wrap their heads around using a random string of characters, Avast has a few strategies that will work for you. For example, you could use a variety of uncommon words smushed together. Make it harder to crack by using more than one language.
- Want to take the work out of creating a random password? Try a random password generator.
What to avoid when creating a strong password
Avoid the following common mistakes when creating a password:
- First, avoid using common words.
- Second, including the name of a friend, pet, or family member makes a password easier to guess.
- Moreover, don’t use obvious substitutions. For example, using the number “0” instead of the letter “O”.
- Be careful with the numbers you use. Using important dates (like your anniversary or birthday) is a no go.
- Don’t use the word “password” as your password… just don’t do it.
- Avoid common number/word combinations.
Strong password quiz!
Now that you know what to aim for and what to avoid when creating a password, let’s test your knowledge. Rate each password as either “A” (Strong!) or “B” (Weak) based on the advice above. Take out a piece of paper and quickly quiz yourself. The answers are at the end of this article!
Level up your strong password with 2-Factor Authentication
Two -actor or multifactor authentication helps give your accounts an extra level of protection. Why use 2FA? Let’s say a hacker manages to get their hands on your login and password. Even with this information they still are missing the final key to crack open your account. In other words, when using two-factor authentication, you often first enter a passcode but then have a second piece of information that you must provide. This could consist of a variety of different things:
- Biometrics: like your fingerprint or a face scan
- Something physical: like a token or fob
- Another sort of password, additional question, or code (could be emailed or texted to you).
In conclusion, if you have an account that you would really like to have secure, consider using 2FA!
How can I remember my strong password?
So now let’s say you’ve created a bunch of strong passwords, but you’re worried you will forget them. With all of the accounts that you have, it just seems like an impossible task. Fear not! There are solutions to this problem too. One easy solution is using a password manager. Essentially, you can save a bunch of your passwords in one spot. However, be sure to do your research to check out the reputation of any password manager you are considering.
Alternatively, CNET suggests that you could write down your passwords in a notebook. However, when choosing this option, you need to be sure that this notebook is hidden and that others do not know that this is where your passwords are stored. When traveling, keeping your passwords in a notebook could leave them more vulnerable in the event that you lose your notebook or it is stolen. Whether you use an online password manager or a physical notebook, be sure to do your best to keep your passwords secure.
Strong passwords quiz answers:
Remember, “A” = Strong! and “B” = Weak.
- B. Bingo2017 isn’t a strong password because it likely uses a pet name and a significant year. This type of combination could be easily guessed.
- B. Password is not a strong password because it is actually one of the most commonly used passwords out there.
- B. Qw3Rty may seem like a strong password since it uses a mix of letters and a number but let’s check out the mistakes. Most importantly, strike 1: “qwerty” is a common combination of letters since it is at the top of the keyboard. Watch out for strike 2: the “E” was substituted for a 3 (a common substitution). Strike 3: This password is too short!
- A. LSx’}kWJ+FG2″jvT This is an example of a strong password! 🙂 A nice mix of letters, punctuation marks, and numbers with a mix of lower and uppercase font.
- B. Love2.14.98 is not a strong password. This password is likely an anniversary date from Valentine’s day back in 1998. Moreover, while it is great to remember your anniversary, your password is not the place to write it down!
- A. Ricesketchwomanperro This is a strong password that uses a mix of 4 completely random words. Additionally, it uses a Spanish word in the end. This helps make it harder to crack.
- B. Lookatmystrongpassword: Using a sentence like this might be funny, but in the end, you won’t be laughing if someone hacks it!
In conclusion, there are many different do’s and don’ts for creating a strong password. Above all, try your best to avoid the temptation of recycling passwords over and over in all your accounts. Furthermore, see it as an opportunity to be creative rather than using a common name or word. If you are worried that you can’t remember all these passwords, try out a password manager or write them down in a safe place. Creating strong passwords is a great first step to take control of your digital privacy.
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