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May 17, 2019

The Best Way to Create (and Remember) a Strong Password

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Passwords are the gatekeepers of our data on the internet. Every online profile you make is (or should) be protected by a password to keep your personal information private. This helps to prevent your data from falling into the wrong hands. It makes sense that you want your first line of defence to be as strong as possible. Thankfully, there are a few great ways to make your password as strong as possible (gym workouts and protein shakes not required).

  • Use a password manager
  • Make it at least 12 characters
  • Use numbers, symbols, and capital and lower-case letters
  • Don’t use real words
  • Avoid obvious substitutions
  • Create a memorable mnemonic

Use a Password Manager

When you use the internet frequently, it’s common to have 5, 10, 20, maybe even more different accounts that require passwords. With so many, it’s tempting to use the same password for each. It’s the convenient choice and means you only need to remember one password, not dozens. But, it’s also less safe. If one account is compromised, you run the risk of having every other account breached as well. Instead, use different passwords but also use a password manager to keep track of them for you (we recommend KeePass). This allows you to protect your safety AND keep track of your passwords.

Make It at Least 12 Characters

Most websites set their own minimum character limit for passwords. Some keep it at eight, others go as low as four. However, the shorter your password, the less secure it is. A great rule of thumb to follow is to use a password that is at least 12 characters long.

Use Numbers, Symbols, and Capital and Lower-Case Letters

The more unpredictable your password, the stronger it is. You can help make it seem more random by using a mix of numbers, symbols, and letters.

Don’t Use Real Words

While real words are easier to remember than an indecipherable scramble of letters and numbers, they’re also easier to crack. If you can find the word in a dictionary, don’t use it.

Avoid Obvious Substitutions

Many people believe that replacing letters with similar numbers (for example, using 3 for E) is a great way to make a strong password. After all, it adds a different character type to the mix and also avoids the issue of using real worlds. However, the trick is so common that it no longer strengthens a password.

Create a Memorable Mnemonic

So, if you can’t use real words and you can’t substitute those real words with numbers, how do you create a strong but MEMORABLE password? It may seem like you’re only left with the option to smash your head against the keyboard and use that as your password. But you can still create a strong, mostly random password by creating a mnemonic, or memory trick. First, think of a sentence that you’ll remember (bonus if it includes numbers somewhere). For example, “The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980. Tickets cost $7.50 per person.” You can then use the first letter of each word, the punctuation, and the numbers to create your password. In this case, it would become TESBwri1980.Tc$7.50pp. Not only is the password longer than 12 characters, it also includes both capital and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols AND it’s easy to remember because it means something to you.

Password protection isn’t something to take lightly. Having a strong password can mean the difference between safety online, and a serious breach of your privacy. Those wanting to take privacy even further can also enable two-factor authentication for accounts that offer it. Take your safety and privacy into your own hands.

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