If you’re like most people, you know you’re supposed to be creating complex, unique passwords every time you sign up for a new service—but you might not always take the time to do it. That’s why research shows that around 40% of online users have gotten a notification about a hacked account, a stolen password, or compromised personal data.
While you may not have control over criminal attacks like data breaches or hacking, there’s one critical thing you can do to minimize your risk online: use stronger passwords. With the right password strategies, it’s easy to protect your data and block hacking attempts in one fell swoop. If you’re not sure how to beef up your online security, here’s what you should know about finding the right password.
Don’t Use Common Passwords
We all know that one of the weakest passwords is “password”—but that doesn’t always stop us from using it. In fact, “password” is in one of the 200 most used passwords of last year, along with other popular offenders like “abc123” and “qwerty.”
Simple passwords like these may be easy to remember, but they’re also easy to hack. In some cases, it can take a hacker a matter of seconds to get into an account that uses these guessable safeguards.
Do Integrate Numbers and Special Characters
Letters may be human-readable and easy to remember, but numbers and special characters can help you add an extra layer of complexity to even the strongest password.
If you still want to make a password you can remember off the top of your head, try throwing these characters in at the beginning and end of the alphabetical part of your password, or break up the letters by putting numbers in between each one.
Do Create Long Passwords
Longer passwords aren’t a common requirement for no reason: the longer a password is, the longer it will take a computer to crack it. Many websites won’t allow you to sign up with a password that’s fewer than eight characters, which is a good place to start. However, if you want to create a strong password, it helps to lengthen your choice beyond this minimum requirement!
Don’t Make It Personal
The more unpredictable you can make your password, the better—which is why it’s important to create a password that no one would associate with you. Though it may be easy to remember passwords that incorporate personal details of your life into them, the last thing you want to do is make it easy for anyone who knows you to guess them. After all, it’s an unfortunate truth that identity thieves can sometimes be people we know and love.
To avoid passwords that are easy to guess, don’t use birthdays, nicknames, phone numbers, or social security numbers. You’ll also want to avoid any references to pets, media, sports, or hobbies you enjoy.
Don’t Use Sequences
No matter how strong the rest of your password is, you should always avoid using any alphabetical or numerical sequence, such as “45678” or “nopqrst.” This section of your password will be predictable and easy to guess—which can negate any protection the rest of your password offers.
Do Create a Passphrase
A single password can be easy to break, but a longer passphrase can add more protection without making your choice hard to remember.
To create a passphrase, you’ll want to think of a multi-word passage, speech, quote, lyric, or motto you can remember with ease. However, don’t forget that it still shouldn’t be too personal, as you won’t want it to be an easy choice that anyone can guess.
Once you have this phrase in mind, try using the first letter of each word as an acronym. You can also add numbers and special characters to substitute for certain words or letters.
Don’t Use Words from a Dictionary
When making a password, make sure you aren’t using a word that you can find in a dictionary. Again, simple passwords are too easy to guess, and computers can crack dictionary-based passwords in no time.
Note that it isn’t just the English dictionary that’s off-limits: don’t use any word that can be found in a foreign-language dictionary, either!
Do Use a Password Manager
Sure, the steps above can be exhausting, especially since most of us have to create new passwords on an ongoing basis. Figuring out complex new passwords using all of the best practices above can lead to a serious case of password fatigue.
That’s where automatic password creation comes in. A password generator can be a great way to create strong passwords with a single click, making it easy to safeguard your data with fewer headaches.
What’s more, a password manager lets you save your valuable new password somewhere safe—instead of jotting it down on a sticky note or saving it in plain text on your computer. After you’ve gone through the work of creating a great password, don’t waste it by making the final product easy to find!
Protect Your Data With Strong Passwords
At the end of the day, one of the most important things standing between you and data theft is a strong password. With a little effort, you can protect your data with complex passwords that even a seasoned hacker would take ages to crack, giving you extra peace of mind online.
As you work to minimize your digital risk and safeguard your personal and business data, it’s important to get your hands on tools that can help. For automatic password creation, easy password management, and much more, our award-winning security services can help. Sign up today to get the ultimate security for your data!