You may be surprised to learn that two of the most popular passwords used are “Password” and “123456”. Surprising, huh? Not only are they weak but they are incredibly obvious, and this is something you definitely DO NOT want to do. You can do so much better than this.  There are certain steps you can take to strengthen the security of your password that we want to share with you.

The best passwords all share certain basic elements:

  • They are made up of a mixture of letters, special characters, punctuation marks and numbers;
  • They are a minimum length of at least 10 characters or more;
  • They cannot be easily guessed from your personal information; and
  • They do not contain a word found in the dictionary.

Based on the above principles, we have compiled the following tips to help you create unique and difficult-to-crack passwords:

1. Length of Password – Size really DOES matter when it comes passwords. Obviously, the longer your password, the better and stronger it is because it takes more time and effort to crack it. It should have a minimum of 10 characters. But, better yet, you should go for 12 characters or even longer to be really secure.

2. Complexity of Password – Make your password complex and difficult to guess. The best passwords combine different types of characters including at least one lower case letter, one upper case letter, numbers, punctuation marks and special characters. Once again, more of each is better.

3. Difficult to Guess – Do not base any part of your password on your personal information. This is just too easy for hackers to find. For example, don’t use any of the following: your birthdate, address, zip code, phone number, your username, family names, pet names, etc. (Also, do not use sequences such as consecutive numbers, letters or keyboard keys. Example: don’t use 123, abc, qwerty).

4. No dictionary words – Do not include words found in the dictionary or a real word from any language. If possible, try to think of something totally random that no one but you would ever think of. A good way to do this is to misspell one or more words or substitute numbers for certain letters of the word to make it harder to crack.

5. Acronyms are useful – You can create a strong password by creating an acronym of a phrase that is meaningful to you. To do this, pick a sentence or passphrase and reduce it to the first letter of each word. Example: “You may be right, I may be crazy” = YmbRimbC. Another related method is to take a word and spell it backwards. Example: incredibly – ylbidercni. And remember to mix it up by adding other special characters, punctuation marks and numbers as discussed above.

6. Multiple Passwords – Don’t use the same password everywhere. It is highly recommended that you create individual and unique passwords for each site or account. Also, when changing a password on an account, do not make it the same as the previous password, even with the addition of a number or other special character. And while you’re at it, change and update your passwords regularly, at the very least every few months.

7. Keep Passwords to yourself – Don’t give your passwords out to anyone, don’t share them, and don’t leave them lying around for others to see. Also, don’t type a password on a computer that does not belong to you, particularly a computer used by the public. Many hackers have key stroke loggers that can steal your password this way. In other words, be mindful of how and where you use your passwords.

8. Storage – The strongest passwords are difficult to remember, so have an efficient way of safely storing them. Any time you create a password, remember to make a note of it so you don’t forget it. But don’t – I repeat DO NOT – post it in plain view. Many people write them on a sticky note attached to their computer monitor or on scraps of paper laying around their computer desk, which are both very bad ideas. When writing it down, hide it securely. May we suggest a Hidden in Plain View Password Organizer Log book for this purpose? It is a password log book designed to look like a regular book so that it is not obvious to the casual observer that it contains your passwords.*(*Shameless plug, since we are the creators of these one-of-a-kind password books).

But remember to keep even a password book such as these away safely from prying eyes.

Now you have the basics for creating stronger passwords.  While no password is guaranteed to be foolproof, these tips will go a long way in enhancing the security of your password information.

Interesting Password Statistics:

  • Any password shorter than 5 digits – can be cracked within 5 seconds.
  • A password with 6 digits, lowercase – takes about 10 minutes to hack.
  • A password with 6 digits, upper & lower case plus numbers and symbols takes about 18 days to hack.
  • A password with 9 digits, upper & lower case plus numbers and symbols takes 44,530 years to hack.