What constitutes a strong, secure password?
Gone are the days of using short and easy-to-remember passwords. I am sure that you are guilty of using your pet’s name, your birth date, your child’s name, your phone number, et cetera. I am sure you are guilty of using the minimum number of characters required too. As well, I know that you do not change your passwords. Shame on you!
However, I thank you for access to your bank account, credit cards, PayPal account, Amazon shopping and so much more. It is very kind of you to let me use your money.
I know that the largest complaint is that remembering the username and password set for each site is entirely too difficult. I do have a solution. We have all used some form of address book at one time or another. Visit your local dollar-priced store and pick up a cheap address book.
Use an old-fashioned address book.
Allow me to explain. I have a retail store shopping card from store “ABC”. Because the store’s name begins with “A”, I will turn to the page for “A” in the address book. I scribble the name of the store, “ABC”. I place the website address, http://www.abc.com. I write my username and password into the block as well. I do the same for each and every set of usernames and passwords that I use. I keep my address book secured in a locked file cabinet. By far, this is the best non-technical approach. I do not use programs or allow Internet Explorer to keep my passwords. My philosophy is that a hacker cannot get access to my file cabinet.
As for the username and password, let me just say that you need to do more than combine four digits of your telephone number with your pet’s name.
Use these basic tips for creating a password.
- Longer is always better. Create a password that is a minimum of eight characters. I like to suggest ten to twelve characters. At least make it a challenger for me to crack your password.
- Use all characters, inlcuding numbers, captial letters, lower-case letters, and symbols.
- Do not use real words. Do not use any word that can be looked up in a dictionary. Misspelling words do not count. They are only a variation of the word.
- Do not use numbers to substitute a letter. For example, “h3110” is something that is easily figured out by any good hacker. They do take into account that we use numbers to represent common letters in appearance.
- Use an anagram. “OICU812” is a classic. I always suggest that you pretend you are creating a license plate. I find that sayings are a great too. “ob2shi4m3!” is “once bitten twice shy for me!”.
- Do not use the same password over and over. I do defy this to some extent. For example, any random site that requires me to login for forum postings will have the same username and password. This is only something that is used to allow me access and confirm my identity on that particular forum. I have no security issues.
- Do not share passwords.
- Do not send your password in email. Email phishing is a serious problem. Always go to the browser and go to the site in question and log into the site before responding to a link in an email from said site. PayPal phishing is the number one problem for most PayPal comprised accounts.
While these are my personal suggestions, here are some more articles on the same subject:
- Tips for creating a strong password
- Online privacy and safety
- Tips from Google
- How to choose a strong password (video)
Use Microsoft’s Password Checker: Test your password here.