In a password protected world, it’s easy for people to forget just how vulnerable they would be if their secret combinations of letters and numbers fell into the wrong hands. From email messages to bank accounts, tons of sensitive information can be accessed by anyone who can type in the right key.
What Not to Do
Hackers may use automated software that can test common password combinations, so avoid the following pitfalls when you create your password.
- Consecutive letter or number sequences
- Common words, even if you add a number to the beginning or end
- Passwords similar to your username
- Personal data, names, etc. in any order
- Phone numbers, addresses, and other obtainable info
Another good rule of thumb is to create different passwords for every website or application that requires one. If you’re thinking that there’s no way you can remember that many passwords, keep reading.
Start with a Good Foundation
If you create an endless number of completely random passwords for all the sites and services you access, chances are – you won’t remember them. You can start with a word that will be easy for you to remember, and then personalize your code from there. It’s still a good idea to stay away from the common password mistakes listed above. Instead, try:
- A meaningful combination of two or three words.
- An acronym using the first letter of each word in your favorite quote or motto.
- A real, but rarely used word of at least six letters.
Once you have an easy to remember base word, you can create good, memorable passwords that no one else will ever decipher.
Make it Stronger
There are several ways to create unique combinations from the base word you’ve chosen. Consider these options:
- Add punctuation marks after a specific letter that you can easily associate with the website that the password is for, like a dollar sign for banking or the @ symbol for email.
- Disperse the numerals of a date or year that can be linked to the account between every one or two letters.
- Type the base word, but replace each letter with the letter to the right on the keyboard for one, up for another, and alternating capital and lower case letters for another.
- Create your own replacement code by associating certain letters with symbols or numbers. The last two numbers of your birth year could represent the first letter of your name if it appears in your password, for example.
You can use these ideas to create completely unique passwords for all of your accounts, or you can create a single random combination and then add an identifier, like FB for Facebook, to the beginning, middle, or end of the string. The strongest passwords use at least one symbol and one numeral, along with both upper and lower case letters.
Other Ideas for Unbreakable Passwords
Randomness is essential if you want a secure password that’s virtually impossible to crack. Rather than choosing a base word, create a memorable typing pattern as the foundation for your passwords. You can make it even more random by alternating the shift key every so many letters, but remember that your computer keyboard may not have the same layout as the one on your phone or high-speed tablets.
We put a great deal of trust in our ability to create strong, unbreakable passwords. With a little concentration and the advice above, your passwords should serve their purpose and will keep your sensitive information private.