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How to Create a Secure Password

Posted July 14th, 2015

Creating a good password is the best way to protect your online accounts from hackers and other unwanted visitors. But what exactly is a “good password?”

Well, a good password is one that is difficult for others to guess, but still easy enough for you to remember. After all, no one likes having to reference a written out password every time they have to login, or constantly having to go through the “I forgot my password” process. Below are some tips to help you craft a password that is both secure and easy to remember.

 

3 Elements of a Good Password

  • Longer than 12 characters
  • Avoid names, places, and dictionary words
  • Uses variations in capitalization, spelling, numbers, and punctuation

By following these three rules, you make it significantly harder for intruders to gain access to your accounts. And with hackers becoming alarmingly sophisticated, it’s important to put in some extra thought when creating your passwords. Many hacking programs are able to recognize root English words, names, foreign words, phonetic patterns; and two digit, date, and single symbol appendages.

If your passwords don’t meet these base requirements, you will be at greater risk. You can see how secure your passwords are by using this nifty password checker. It uses the same variables mentioned above to gauge how well your password can withstand an attack.

 

1. Sentence Passwords

Using a sentence as the basis for your password will help you get to the length you need. The sentence can be about anything you find memorable.

Example: I eat ice cream on Fridays in the park.

Once you have your sentence, you’ll want to abbreviate and combine the words to form a unique password.

I eat ice cream on Fridays in the park. = IeatIConFD@ysintprk

This password got a 100% strength rating when we typed it into the password checker.

 

2. Lengthy Phrase

Another method is to come up with a long phrase or seemingly random selection of words. We’re not going to use any symbols or numbers here (though you are welcome to do so). You should also avoid using widely known phrases like, “You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”

Example: Apple pie turkey leg fluffy chipmunks superman slinky toy

You can make it a list of your favorite things, or something so nonsensical that you can’t help but remember it. Using a rhyme scheme may also help you. Again, the strength of this kind of password comes directly from its length.

 

3. Person-Action-Object

This method uses a mnemonic device to help you create a good but memorable password. First, think of a place or thing that you will easily remember. We’ll pick the Grand Canyon. Then pick a person. We’ll use George Washington. Now give that person an action in relation to the object. We’ll use flying.

Now if you bring these three elements together we get, “George Washington flies over the Grand Canyon.” It’s silly and creates a lasting image, which is exactly what we’re going for.

Now you can get a little creative and make a few changes so that the password is more difficult to guess.

George Washington flies over the Grand Canyon = GWfliesoverthe1000Canyon

 

4. Keyboard Pattern

This method uses muscle memory to help you remember your password. The benefit to this method is that it will look like a random string of letters and numbers, so dictionary hacks will have no chance of breaking in.

For our example password, we will begin at the “3” key and work our way “down and right.” Then we’ll go back from “c” to “x” two times then back up to “3.” Finally we’ll go over to “4” and then make our way “down and right” again. All together, it should look like this.

Example: 3edcxcxcde34rfv

Our example could actually stand to be a bit longer, but you get the idea. The key is to create a pattern and repeat it enough times so that it commits to muscle memory.

 

One Last Important Rule

The final rule for keeping your online accounts safe is to never use the same password for more than one account. This can make remembering all those passwords a lot harder.

For those who find themselves regularly signing up for new services, you may want to sign up for a password management tool. There are plenty of tools out there, the majority of which are mentioned in this PC Magazine article.

The purpose of a password management tool is to keep all of your passwords safe and under one roof. Some of these tools can be integrated with your browser and mobile device, allowing for easy password retrieval. All of the passwords you use through the tool are encrypted, so you know they’ll be secure.

If you don’t feel like using a management tool, our advice is to memorize the passwords you use the most and write down the rest for safekeeping.

Now that you know how to create a good password, it would be a good idea to review your current ones to see where improvements can be made.

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