Creating strong passwords may seem like an intimidating task, especially when the recommendation is to have a unique password for each account you create. Anyone would be overwhelmed if they had to create and memorize multiple passwords like Bn4i-29P-G14^qW.
As a result, you may be using one identical password even though you know it’s risky and that if it gets compromised all your important information is exposed. Passwords you can’t remember are useless as well as passwords that are too easy to remember. With activities like personal banking and retirement increasingly migrating online, the stakes continue to rise.
What Makes a Password Strong?
The key aspects of a strong password are length (the longer the better); a mix of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols, no ties to your personal information, and no dictionary words. The good news is you don’t have to remember terrible strings of random letters numbers and symbols to incorporate all these aspects into your passwords. You simply need a few tricks.
How to Easily Spot a Weak Password
The secret is to make passwords memorable but hard to guess. Learning a few simple tricks will make creating strong unforgettable passwords easy. Creating them can be fun and your payoff in increased safety is huge.
To comprehend the definition of a strong password, it’s best to go over common practices that put millions of users at risk daily. Here are a few examples of weak passwords to understand why these put you at risk:
The uses common words, like “Password”
The word “Password” is the most commonly used password. It’s also sadly weak – as are ’default’ and ’blank’. These are simple words that can be simply guessed by a user. However, humans aren’t your only concern. Programs that use automated databases can achieve a dictionary assault on your system, recognizing the password easily.
It’s easy to identify, especially if someone knows you well
A typical example is using a last name and year of birth combination. Johnson1980 – though this example uses 12 characters and includes letters and numbers, it includes both a name that can be linked with you or your family, and other recognizing pieces of information such as your birth year, which means it can be easily hacked.
It’s short and can be easily deciphered
Let’s say you use “F1oweR” as a password, mixing up capital letters and numbers. Here are two important reasons why this password example isn’t safe:
- It’s too short. A long password is a strong password. The harder a hacker or a code-breaking software application must work, the better.
- The number of substitutions can be easily guessed. Substituting of the number 1 for the letter l is easy to guess for both humans and software.
How to Keep a Strong Password Secure
So, you’ve decided on a password that’s the perfect length, obscure, and mixes letters, numbers, and cases. You’re on the right track, but not to total password security just yet.
- Don’t reuse your passwords. If you’re using the same password across email, shopping, and other websites holding sensitive information (or even a local community website) and one of those experiences a breach, you’ve now exposed the other services to the risk of being breached as well.
- Don’t write your passwords down. In can be enticing, especially in the workplace, to keep track of passwords the old-fashioned way, but these are easily to be found.
- Don’t share your passwords. This one is a no-brainer, and if you must share, change it as soon as possible.
Tips for Creating a Unique Password That’s Also Strong
The secret to creating a strong password that’s unique and easy to remember is to focus on making it unforgettable and making it hard to guess. Seems simple, right? By learning a few simple tricks, you can easily create a hard-to-crack and memorable password with minimal effort. Plus, creating them can be fun and your payoff in increased safety is huge.
To prevent these easy to guess or hack passwords try one or more of the following tricks:
Use an expression and integrate shortcut codes or abbreviations
These examples will let you use phrases that either means something to you, or you associate with a type of website. For instance, the ’all for one and one for all’ may be the password for a social networking site where it’s all about sharing. It could be a phrase about money for a banking site, and so on. Here are few examples:
- 2BorNot2B_ThatIsThe? (To be or not to be, that is the question – from Shakespeare)
- L8r_L8rNot2day (Later, later, not today – from the kid’s rhyme)
- 4Score&7yrsAgo (Four score and seven years ago – from the Gettysburg Address)
- John3:16=4G (Scriptural reference)
- 14A&A41dumaS (one for all and all for 1 – from The Three Musketeers, by Dumas)
Use passwords with common elements, but modified to specific sites
These examples tell a story using a consistent style so if you know how you write the first sections, and you’re on the login page for a site you’ll know what to add.
- ABT2_uz_AMZ! (About to use Amazon)
- ABT2_uz_PP! (About to use PayPal)
- ABT2_uz_BoA! (About to use Bank of America)
- Pwrd4Acct-$$ (Password for account at the bank)
- Pwrd4Acct-Fb (Password for a Facebook account)
You’re now prepared to create your own strong, long, memorable mixed-character passwords using one or more of these tricks. Now, share the tips with others, just don’t share your passwords!