How to create strong passwords
How do you create strong passwords?
Your first line of defense on the Web is creating the strongest password possible to protect your computer, your data and your online accounts. That may sound like common sense, but hackers have become increasingly sophisticated at password “cracking.”
Here are some tips on how to create strong passwords.
- Length – make your passwords long with 8+ characters.
- Complexity – include letters, punctuation, symbols, and numbers. Use the entire keyboard, not just the letters and characters you use or see most often. The greater the variety of characters in your password, the better. However, password hacking software automatically checks for common letter-to-symbol conversions, such as changing “and” to “&” or “to” to “2.”
- Variation – to keep strong passwords effective, change them often. Set an automatic reminder for yourself to change your passwords on your email, banking, and credit card websites about every three months.
- Variety – don’t use the same password for everything. Hackers steal passwords on websites that have very little security, and then they use that same password and user name in more secure environments, such as banking websites. For example, if you use your banking password on a public forum which has little to no security implemented, hackers will target the forum and then try to use the login information on known banking sites.
To you, a common misspelled word which, let’s say you write backwards might seem very hard to break. But cyber criminals use sophisticated tools that can rapidly decipher passwords. So in order to avoid common password pitfalls you should not have passwords that use:
- Dictionary words in any language;
- Words spelled backwards, common misspellings, and abbreviations;
- Sequences or repeated characters. Examples: 12345678, 222222, abcdefg, or adjacent letters on your keyboard (qwerty);
- Personal information. Your name, birthday, driver’s license, passport number, or similar information.
How do you handle passwords securely?
Always remember, in order to protect your data against unauthorized access and misuse, your passwords must be properly constructed and effectively protected:
- Use special characters, numbers, lower/upper case; at least 8 characters long and at least 3 special characters
- Do not use personal information (name, DoB, address, phone number)
- Never share your passwords, store them in plain text or written form
- Have different passwords for your accounts and change them regularly; use a password manager to store your passwords.
- In case of suspicion that your password has leaked, CHANGE IT IMEDIATELY. In case you ignore rule #3, be sure to change the passwords on all accounts!
Keep in mind that protecting your computer and accounts with strong passwords also protects all other users who are connected to you.
Bottom line: Keep your computer, data and accounts safe with strong passwords.
About the author: Sabin S. is working in 1&1 Internet Development Romania as a Security Analyst. He is responsible with improving and implementing security requirements in our projects’ SDLC, carrying out penetration tests and providing support on security issues.