We hate to think about it, but the internet is a pretty dangerous place. Recent studies suggest a hacker strikes an unknowing user every 39 seconds. Knowing how to create a strong password for each of your online accounts, from Netflix to personal banking, is one way you can protect yourself. Unfortunately, most cyber-thieves are really good at what they do. Their methods are evolving to liken the odds of grabbing your information. Make their efforts fail by refreshing your memory on cybersecurity with this crash course of an article that identifies the best fool-proof methods you can follow to keep your information safe on the internet.
Strong Password Requirements
A good rule of thumb for creating a strong password is to combine:
- uppercase/lowercase letters
If you’re wondering how to create a strong password, think about the letters and symbols you’re using. A strong password should also contain more than eight characters but aim for at least 15 to make it even harder for a hacker to crack.
Steer clear of using a password that someone who knows you or follows you on social media could easily guess; that means to avoid using something like your spouse’s name or your birthday as the keyphrase. You should also avoid using common keyphrases that are comically easy to guess, like “password” or “1234”.
Instead, create a secure password by using three or four random, unrelated words. Spice things up by sprinkling in a special character or two between the words.
You can also bulk up your online security by selecting a random, but personal, sentence as your password. Maybe it’s something like, “Paul’s Diner has the best pancakes in New York City”. Then take the first two letters of every word to create your password. Using our example, it should look something like “PaDihathbepainNeYoCi”. Yes, it looks bizarre, but when it comes to protecting yourself online, that’s pretty much the point.
Use a Password Manager
We said earlier that it’s necessary to use a unique password for each of your online accounts. But considering most of us bounce between at least a dozen different accounts daily, it can quickly become difficult to keep up with each passphrase.
That’s where a password manager comes in handy.
Password managers take care of remembering the endless number of security phrases you compile by storing the information for you. So when you visit a website you need to log into, the password manager will auto-populate the login credentials on your behalf.
When you use these services, the only password you’re responsible for remembering is a master keyphrase you use to access the management system. Some popular password managers include:
- LastPass: This password management system is a favorite for many because it offers users a free version. However, recent updates to pricing plans and services have reduced the features free users can access. Regardless, the platform is still noted for its easy usability and diverse browser functionality.
- 1Password: Some standout features from this password manager include its Watchtower service and a unique Travel Mode. Some drawbacks are a clunky pricing structure, password sharing limitations, and a restricted list of where you can import passwords.
- Dashlane: Dashlane provides users with many high-security features, including a one-click password modifier for over 300 different websites and monitoring services for potential data breaches. Dashlane even offers a virtual private network (VPN). Finally, users looking for a low-cost option will appreciate Dashlane’s free tier.
Opt in to Two-Factor Authentication
Are you guilty of breezing by the two-factor authentication option your online account prompts you to use? Think it’s just a waste of time and that your password is strong enough on its own? Well, sure, your password will be very secure if you follow our advice from above. However, two-factor authentication takes your online security to a whole new level. And no, we’re not being dramatic.
With two-factor authentication, it doesn’t matter if a hacker could somehow crack your password. They’ll need to have your smartphone to see the one-time code the authenticator sends each time you log in.
If you don’t want one-time codes sent to your smartphone, use authentication services offered on applications like Google Authenticator or Authy.
How Often Do I Need To Change My Password?
Surprise, surprise! You actually don’t need to change your password as often as we were once made to believe. Many experts suggest that frequently changing your password only makes it more difficult to manage your online security. Instead, you should only return to the drawing board and create a new password when you suspect your security has been compromised. However, you do need to change your password at the end of each year. No password is good for forever.
Tricks For Remembering Passwords
If password management systems aren’t your thing, and you worry that perhaps you may forget the dozens of passwords you create, fear not. There is an old-fashioned trick you can dust off and utilize. That is, pulling out a sheet of paper and writing each passcode down. Afterward, store this document in a safe location and retrieve it only when you need it. While we certainly don’t suggest using this method long-term, it is efficient so long as you keep the document concealed.
You can always make a password easy to memorize by using something relevant to your life and then breaking it down to prevent the keyphrase from becoming easy to guess. For example, maybe your favorite lyric is “All you need is love”. Turning that phrase into “AlUNeIs<3” creates an efficient password that’s meaningful to you and therefore easier to memorize. Using this practice for any password you create makes the code not just secure, but unforgettable.
That’s it! Now You Know How To Create A Strong Password
We hope these suggestions for how to create a strong password provide you with a safer, more enjoyable online experience. Want more tips for simplifying your day-to-day life? Learn how to secure different elements of your life with a home security system that can protect you from package thieves and potential break-ins. Or check out our guide on common red flags to avoid when shopping for a new home.