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5 Tips for Creating a Strong Password

When creating a strong password, it is wise not to make a hacker’s job easier but avoiding these common mistakes.

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Just what makes a strong password? If you are one of the many people out there who have had a bank account, social media page, or email hacked, you are well aware of the value of having a strong password. Many people typically go with what they know and will remember easiest, however, this methodology has proven to have a significant negative impact on your data’s security. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the more familiar the password is to you and the easier it is to type out, the higher your risk of getting hacked. Even worse yet is if a person decides to use the same easy password for everything because then a hacker will have access to just about anything.

Google has its own guidelines for what users should do, but is there real cause for concern? The increasing rates at which fraud is happening around the world, particularly identity theft, is evidence enough that many people out there are falling victim to the result of weak passwords.

So what kind of mistakes do people make when crafting their passwords? Simply put, taking the easy road will get you in trouble. For example, short passwords (1-6 characters) are much easier for hackers to guess than longer passwords (8-12+ characters). The key to any strong password is variety—change things up to keep hackers off balance and your data safe. Here are some common mistakes people make when crafting passwords:

  • all lowercase letters - Typing everything in lowercase letters removes a degree of variation from the password formula and doesn’t force hackers to work as hard; use uppercase letters in different places to break up the pattern
  • Names, Dates, Places - Incorporating familiar things into your passwords such as a relative’s name, a child’s birthdate, or the street you grew up on makes it easy for a hacker to guess your password, especially if they already have personal information about you; use words, phrases, or sequences that are not affiliated with you to stump hackers
  • Actual Words in Dictionary - Refrain from using actual words as they can be tried out and quickly moved past by the best hackers until they identify the right word; instead, use abbreviations of words and phrases that make sense to you using letters, number, and symbols
  • Variations of Older Passwords - If you have used a password in the past, do not simply recycle it by changing one or two characters; reviving passwords can backfire, especially if you have been hacked before using said password, so use something new
  • No Variety in Characters Used - Using real sequences of letters, numbers or even keys in a row across your keyboard make determining your password much easier for hackers; randomize your placement of letters, numbers, capitalized letters, and symbols to make a password (an abbreviated phrase you’ll remember works best) that is very difficult to guess

If you are having trouble remembering your different passwords for different accounts and websites, consider a password managing program.    

Popular password management systems like LastPass offer users encrypted security for a digital password vault that can hold and autofill many of your passwords for various websites and logins. These programs are usually available for computers and mobile devices to keep your many passwords safe, especially if you have trouble remembering many strong passwords.

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