Seven Tips for Strong, Safe Passwords

Seems like you have to come up with a password for everything these days, doesn't it?  And we know it's tempting to make passwords as simple as possible; it's annoying to have to click the "forgot your password" link every time you try to log in somewhere.  But protecting our information online is extremely important, so it's crucial that we use responsible password practices.  It's important that passwords be kept confidential and strong (i.e., hacker resistant).  "How?" you ask?  Here are seven tips to get you well on your way:

  1. Don't put your passwords on a sticky note taped to your computer.  We know it's tempting, but don't do it.
  2. Make sure your password is long enough.  The longer your password is, the harder it will be to crack.  Typically, folks suggest at least 12-14 characters in length if the system allows it.  To reach that length, try using a phrase instead of a single word.
  3. Use both lower and upper-case letters.
  4. Get creative with numbers and symbols.  Try to include at least one of each in your password, and not just at the end.
  5. Don't use words or numbers that could be linked to you personally (pet names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.).
  6. Try to avoid using actual words, or at least their actual spelling, if possible.  Randomness is a big factor in how easy a password is to crack.
  7. For areas that are especially important to keep secure (bank accounts, your business or home network, etc.), change your password regularly (every 30 to 60 days).  Some systems are prompting you to do this automatically now.

How 'bout an example?

  • Weak:  littlelamb
  • Stronger:  LittleLamb82!
  • Strongest:  M@ryh4dalyttleL@MB!