Protect Yourself: Effective Password Creation Techniques

cyber-securityAs most of you know, in order to access personal information on a computer, a password is required. As more and more of today’s technology depends on passwords for security, it is essential for everyone to create secure passwords.

If a hacker were to get a hold of your password, they could wreak havoc. From reading your personal email to creating credit cards in your name, the possibilities are almost endless.

The good news is it’s not very difficult to create effective and secure passwords. All you have to do is follow the below guidelines to keep your cyber-information safe from hackers.

Make it long — The longer your password, the harder it is to crack. Try to aim for at least 8 characters, but 14 or more is ideal.

Use a variety of different characters — Capital letters, lower case letters, numbers, symbols, anything you can think of that is easy for you to remember. The more types of characters you use the harder your password will be to crack.

Avoid common words — Modern hackers have very sophisticated tools that basically read the dictionary. They take a word, monkey, for instance, and attempt many different ways to spell it. For example, m0nk3y, monky, yeknom, monkey, MoNkEy.

Avoid sequences, repeating patterns, and adjacent keys — Never include “1234567”, “abcdefg”, “qwerty”, “qazwsxedc”, “111111”, “12121212”, or “abcabcabc” in your passwords.

Avoid using your username or personal information — Never use your login name in your password. Similarly, never put pieces of your social security number, phone number, birthday, or your significant other’s name in your password.

Contrary to popular belief, substituting characters isn’t very secure — Avoid simply replacing characters like “o” with “0” or “A” with “4” or “E” with “3”. As stated above, hackers have a comprehensive arsenal they use to crack passwords like this. It IS ok, however, if you substitute characters as well as misspell them. For instance, 4w$UmP0$um is more secure than 4w3$0m3P0$$um (“awesome possum” was the phrase I used there).

Use more than one password — This is perhaps the hardest to do but one of the most important. Common thinking is, “This is a very secure password, let’s just use it for my Facebook, MySpace, Bank Account, Email Account, Computer Profile and every other account I have.” However, this IS NOT TRUE. No matter how secure you think your password is, it is very possible for a hacker to get lucky and guess it. If they do get lucky and guess it, you have made it easy for them to gain access to your whole life rather than just your Facebook account. ALWAYS use a different password for a different account.

If you need to write your passwords down, protect them — The best way for you to remember your password is to write it down. It is an old wife’s tale that writing down passwords isn’t secure. If you do write them down, make sure to protect them. Writing all your passwords on an index card and carrying it in your wallet probably isn’t the best idea.

Don’t keep all your passwords in one place — This goes hand in hand with the one above. Like the old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” it’s a bad idea to keep all your passwords on one piece of paper. If a crook happens to steal your safe that has all your passwords inside, the hard work of creating all these different passwords becomes null and void.

Like any set of guidelines, it is more beneficial to follow ALL of them rather than just ones that are convenient. The first step to having secure cyber-data is to create and protect secure passwords.