How to create a strong password

How to Create Strong Passwords (And Remember Them)

What is the first line of defense against a cyberattack?

A password.

The stronger your password, the more protected your computer will be from hackers and malicious software.

At this point, you know that it’s not a good idea to use “password” as a password. But did you know that reusing passwords to access multiple sites is also a deadly mistake?

If you’re a password recycler, don’t worry, you are not alone. According to the popular password manager, LastPass, about 66% of people reuse the same password across platforms.

We understand – it is challenging to come up with (and remember) passwords.

That’s why today, the team at CompassMSP will show you how to create a strong password. And once you have your password, we will show you how to make sure you don’t forget it.

Let’s get started!

The 4 Golden Rules for Creating a Strong Password:

Create a password that has 12 characters.

The longer the password, the better. At a minimum, your passwords should be 12 characters long.

Use a combination of numbers, symbols, capital letters, and lower-case letters.

When hackers try to break into an account, they aren’t trying to guess the password themselves. Instead, hackers use programs that automatically run through massive databases of passwords.

The best defense against these programs is a long string of characters, numbers, and symbols.

Don’t pick a word in the dictionary (or your pet’s name).

The first rule of creating a strong password is to avoid prominent dictionary words. And a combination of a few words is also wrong.

We also recommend you stay away from prominent names and places.

For example, if your dog’s name is Sweet Pie, you don’t want to make your password “SweetPie500”. Hackers are smart. If a hacker targets you, they could probably find your dog’s name through social media.

Don’t rely on obvious substitutions.

Don’t use common substitutions for letters and words. For example, you shouldn’t replace an “o” with a “0”. That tactic isn’t going to fool a cybercriminal.

How to Create a Memorable but Strong Password:

With those four password rules in mind, it should be easy to make a strong password. For instance, you could run your fingers across the keyboard and get something like “asA$uKHAF1!@”.

That is a strong password.

“asA$uKHAF1!@” is over the 12-character minimum and includes a mix of different characters. It’s also not found in the dictionary.

However, “asA$uKHAF1!@” is a tricky password to remember. To create a memorable, strong password, consider this trick:

Think of two sentences that you are likely to remember, like: “The first apartment I lived in was 301 West Charles Street. The rent was $550 per month.”

  1. Turn those sentences into a password by using the first digits of each word. In the example, the password would then be “TfaIliw3WCS.Trw$5pm.”
  2. That’s a decent password that you should be able to remember. Of course, a good random password might include a few more numbers and symbols, but it’s not a bad start.

Password Best Practices:

Don’t tell your password to anyone!

Never share your password, even with that friend who wants access to your HBO account.

The only time it may be appropriate to share your password is with a trusted IT support desk to correct a technical problem. After the IT person fixes your situation, you should change your password immediately.

Don’t use the same password for everything.

It’s a bad idea to recycle passwords. Period.

When your password on a web service gets hacked, you’d better hope you didn’t use the same password for other web services.

To help prevent future hacks, you should use a different password for each website.

Frequently change your passwords for sensitive websites.

The best passwords are the ones that change with frequency. It would be best to change your password every 60 – 90 days to protect your private information.

Please don’t write it down! Instead, use a password manager.

So, what exactly is a password manager? They are easy-to-use programs that save all your usernames and passwords in one central, secure location.

They make it easy to create long, impenetrable passwords for all your accounts. And they also eliminate the need to write them down anywhere. Password managers are like secure vaults for passwords. To use it, all you have to do is remember one master password that unlocks your account.

Our affiliate, MRW Systems, has an article all about password managers to learn more about password managers. You can learn more by following this link.

PS: password managers can also generate strong passwords for you. All it takes is a click of a mouse and no extra thought on your end.

Closing Thoughts:

Once you’ve set up your password manager and replaced all your passwords, don’t think you’re out of the woods yet.

The best practices for cybersecurity are changing all the time. To better protect yourself online, it’s essential to continue your security education.

Here are a couple of links to our most popular cybersecurity articles:

 

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