How to Create Strong Passwords

Alayna Okerlund

Last Updated: July 7th, 2020

Designing a secure and unique password for everything you do online can be difficult, especially when you are making a password for a site you’ll never use again.
 
Although making a password with your dog’s middle name and your second cousin’s birthday may not seem important, it can save you from being hacked daily.
 
According to a 2019 Forbes article, the top five most common passwords are "123456," "123456789," "qwerty," "password," and "111111." It’s not rare to see millions of passwords get hacked each year due to weak passwords.
 
Here are some tips to help you increase your password security and help others do the same:

Avoid using the obvious

Using obvious passwords such as "123456" is not going to provide any sense of online security.
 
When creating a password, even for a site you don’t care about, use words and numbers that are not commonly used by everyone else, like a pet’s name, an inside joke, or a keyword from a favorite memory.
 
Any number that has significance to you, like the day you got your first bike or the date of your first kiss, would work well in a password. 

Make every password longer

Passwords are designed to be difficult for hackers to break, so having a longer, more complex password will give you a better chance of staying out of their reach.
 
According to an article on theguardian.com, passwords should be created with 12-14 base minimum characters. The more characters there are, the more password options hackers are faced with. Many people don’t have long enough passwords, simply because they are harder to remember.
 
An easier way to remember passwords, according to the Guardian article, is to use a long phrase as a password instead of having an all number-based password. 

Switch it up

An important part of creating a strong password is to switch up capitalization, the numbers you use, punctuation, and spelling. Like character length, this will give hackers more options to work with, thus taking more time and energy for them to hack the password.

Remember it yourself

Although it may be difficult to remember passwords, relying on yourself, rather than a program or app, is the best way to go. Many people choose to have their browser remember their passwords for them, but this makes your password easier to obtain by not just you, but others as well.
 
Remember not to openly share your passwords with anyone. According to a cnbc.com article, approximately 31 percent of today’s millennials are likely to share their passwords with other people.
 
And it’s not just millennials who aren’t practicing password security; the very same cnbc.com article states that 58 percent of the baby boomer generation are struggling with creating strong passwords as well.

It’s not one and done

Many people create one password and use it for multiple sites.
 
In general, people should use different passwords for each website they use. That's a lot of passwords to remember, which is why there are many helpful password manager tools available if you simply cannot keep track of them all on your own.
 
Although you may want to make things easier on yourself by using one password for everything, you will make it easier for hackers to get that password as well.
 
Identity theft is one of the most common crimes committed each year. Creating secure passwords is just one thing you can do to protect yourself.
 
For even more security and hacker protection, consider using an identity theft company or service designed to stop hackers and attackers before they get to you.
 
To help you decide what identity theft service to choose, a ranked and reviewed list of the best identity theft companies available can be found on bestcompany.com.  Creating strong passwords and learning how to protect your information is the best way to stop cybercriminals.
 
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