Tips for Creating Strong Passwords

Why do I need good passwords?

When confronted with the task of creating a password, most people use the same, simple password for every login. However, this is very insecure for two reasons: first, you shouldn't use the same password for various logins and second, you should try to use complex passwords. There are programs available that can "crack" insecure passwords in seconds. If your banking password is stolen or cracked, a criminal could steal all of your money and more.

How do I make strong passwords?

One problem with strong and complex passwords is that they can be difficult to remember, especially as you make more and more. Sometimes users are tempted to write down passwords if they are too complex to remember, but this is not a good practice at all. A common tip for creating a password that you can remember is to think of a sentence or phrase and abbreviate it in a unique way. If you were born on January 1 in New York City, NY, you might use IwB1-J@|\|.1NyC! for "I was born 1-Jan. in New York City!" If a stranger were to look at the password, he or she could probably not decipher it. This, however, is only one password. You should make a different password for each site, and change them regularly. As I like to program, my solution was to make a program that generates very secure passwords based on the site's name and a unique input. Microsoft has a password strength test where you can check your passwords to see how secure they are. I do not recommend using your exact password, but instead type in one that is similar in length and complexity.

What to include:

  • 8 or more characters, but more is much better. Even 1 additional character can greatly increase the odds of it being cracked
  • Uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Numbers
  • Symbols (like @, {, and $)
  • Punctuation (like . ? and !)

What not to include:

  • Numbers and symbols intended to replace certain letters in a word and then use that word(example: P@ssw0rd)
  • Your social security number, personal identification number, address, user ID or other personal information
  • Sequences of keys on a keyboard, such as qwerty or 1qaz
  • The name of your spouse, child, other relative, or pet
  • Words that are in the dictionary of any common language

Remember: The strongest password in the world is useless if somebody has physical access to your computer.