When creating a password, it’s tempting to use objects from your life that are important to you as inspiration and incorporate them into your password so that it’s easier to remember. Unfortunately, cybercriminals know these strategies, and these techniques can allow them to guess your password and access your accounts easily. Some people may decide to use the same password across all accounts. If cybercriminals uncover your password, they now have access to all of your user accounts. Explore several best practices for creating a strong password for your computer.
The Do’s and Dont’s for Passwords
What should you do, and what should you avoid when creating passwords?
Do Not Use Sequential Numbers or Letters
Sequential numbers and letters are easy to guess with a brute force cracking method. Avoid using anything sequential like abcd, 1234, or qwerty (sequential letters on a computer keyboard).
Do Not Use Words From the Dictionary
Don’t use ordinary words with standard spelling as part of your password. Replace letters with symbols and numbers that look like those letters in words. For example, use the @ (the “at” symbol) for the letter a, 3 for an e, an exclamation mark for the number 1, etc. You can also deliberately misspell a word. For best results, combine these two tactics.
Do Not Reuse Passwords
Even if you follow all the best practices and make a solid password, a hacker may still access your password. Using a different password for every device, website, or application you use is a wise idea. If one of your passwords becomes compromised, only the specific entity tied to that password will be at risk. Everything else will be safe. Also, don’t share your passwords with anyone. Even if a friend wouldn’t betray your trust, your friend’s devices may be more vulnerable to being compromised than you are and could inadvertently expose your passwords.
Do Use a Combination of Symbols, Upper and Lowercase Letters, and Numbers
Make sure your password is at least eight characters long and contains a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Mix them up so that you don’t have too many numbers, symbols, and upper or lowercase letters in a row.
Do Use a Combination of Different and Unrelated Words and Phrases
To help make your password easier to remember, you can use words or phrases as part of your password. Mix up the case and incorporate some numbers and symbols into it. Avoid popular culture references, especially if it is something you are well known for as a fan. For example, @[email protected] (apple dog lamp) would be a strong password.
Do Use a Password Manager to Store Passwords
Don’t store your passwords in a document on your computer or a nearby sticky note. If you’re using a company computer, your IT department might have a password manager tool you should use. If not, most modern browsers feature secure saved passwords. Managing passwords can seem tedious, but it’s necessary.
What You Should Never Include as Part of Your Password
The following items should never appear in your password:
- Your name or names of close family members.
- Your birthday or birthdays of anyone close to you.
- Your pet’s name.
- Anything about where you live, such as street address or city.
- Obvious words related to your job, interests, or hobbies.
Hackers aim to get as much information about a potential victim by scouring the web. Using what they find, they’ll try to guess your password based on personal details uncovered and make strategic guesses of your password. Take a moment to update your passwords to make them safer and harder to hack.
How to Create a Strong Password
Fortunately, with password storage options and online tools to generate passwords, creating an effective password doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, if you use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge for your browser, these interfaces will suggest an option to create a password for you when you click on the new password entry box. If you use a reputable password manager, this tool will often have password generators that can develop almost uncrackable passwords with a random array of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Use a Passphrase Rather Than a Password
A passphrase can be even more secure than a password because it is much longer than a single word, making it more difficult to crack via brute force. To create a passphrase, you borrow a phrase and take some letters, numbers, and punctuation from that phrase to generate what would seem like a random combination of letters and numbers but has meaning for you.
You can expound on the suggestion above and replace letters in the phrase with symbols and numbers. Use an easily memorable misspelling of any or all of the words in the phrase. Make replacements for words in the phrase for even more security.
While not technically a password, utilize two-factor authentication to keep your accounts safe and secure. Two-factor authentication adds another layer of security if someone manages to steal or guess your password. Two-factor authentication works by using secondary information or input in addition to your password before allowing access to your account. Typically, this authorization is done by texting or emailing you a one-time code that you’ll apply on top of correctly entering your password.
A caveat here is that a hacker can intercept your text messages or emails, making this second layer of security a moot point. An even better way to use two-factor authentication is to use an authentication app instead. They’re far more secure and are much more difficult to intercept. These authenticators include apps such as Authy, Microsoft Authenticator, and Google Authenticator. Instead of getting a text message, the app would send you a notification, and you would click on the message to proceed with the login.
The team at Golden Tech understands how important it is to have a strong password to protect your online accounts and information. Use these tips to update your current passwords and create new ones. Feel free to use our secure online contact form to ask questions about information technology solutions that work. We also offer an IT emergency kit to help you get back up and running as soon as possible if you’re experiencing an IT emergency.