With internet use increasing over the years, online safety has become more important than ever. The convenience that comes along with shopping, banking, paying bills, etc., on the internet has made life easier and more enjoyable. You have probably amassed a sizeable number of online accounts and a key step in protecting these accounts is the creation and management of your passwords.
Here are some basic dos and don’ts for creating passwords that are both strong and secure.
DON’T – Make your password personal—When selecting a new password, you may instinctively reach for a personal name or phrase. Children, pets or former street names are popular choices. These are tempting options since they will be easy for you to remember. However, this is not a good idea. Words and names that are personal to you are likely to be first on a hacker’s list. With so much information on the web, many personal selections are surprisingly easy for hackers to find online.
DON’T – Use common words from the dictionary—Criminals can now use computer programs to guess millions of passwords in seconds. Using common words, such as “love” or “money” could put your personal information at risk. Instead, try to select a complicated password that has multiple words and symbols.
DO – Use acronyms for phrases/sentences you can remember—Using the first letter of each word in a phrase or sentence to create a password will make it difficult for a cybercriminal to decipher. For example, if you’re into science, you may recall the popular mnemonic, “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” that many kids use to remember the order of the planets (MVEMJSUNP). Using an acronym can be a great way to find a secure password that you can remember.
DO – Integrate numbers and special characters into your password—The more unpredictable, the better. Consider adding numbers to the beginning or end of your password. It is also a great idea to use both lower and uppercase letters and to throw in special characters (!@?). Put some uppercase letters in the middle or end of a word to mix it up even more. Avoid using a password such as 12345678; although it contains numbers, the order and simplicity make it weak.
DO – Create long passwords—You may find that many websites will require you create a password with a minimum of six to eight characters. Try exceeding the minimum as much as possible. A password with 35 unique characters, 8102OnlineBankingIsTheWay2Go4Me2018, is much harder to decode than one with eight.
DON’T – Reuse a password—Many programs or websites require you to reset your password after a certain amount of time. If you’re prompted for a reset, don’t be tempted to reuse an old password. If your password has ever been compromised without your knowledge, resetting it back to an old password could increase your security risk. It’s best to always create new passwords from scratch and reset them every 90 days.
DO – Use a Password Generator—If you’re still uneasy about creating your own secure password, try an online password generator. They are designed to create complex passwords that even the toughest criminals will have a hard time cracking.