Forgot your password? We’ve all been there. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting locked out of your E-mail, Facebook, or worse, your entire computer! Or, how about logging into your account, only to realize someone has hacked into your page and posted embarrassing content to your entire network. Not. Cool.
Lucky for you, our computer technicians have years of experience in password creation, and have come up with some great advice to help you create passwords that you (and ONLY you) will remember!
Creating passwords may seem like a simple task, but the process is actually very strategic. So without further ado, here are 8 Guidelines for Making Passwords:
1. At least 8 characters long.
You may have heard this one before, and some websites even require it. Why? Because passwords that are shorter than 8 characters have proven to be easier to crack. It makes sense. The more characters in your password, the harder it will be for someone to figure it out. However, don’t go overboard. A password that is too long will be tough for even you to remember.
2. Mix character classes.
Did you know the characters on your keyboard actually belong to four different classes? They are:
Class 1: Lowercase Letters a-to-z
Class 2: Uppercase Letters A-to-Z
Class 3: Numbers 0-to-9
Class 4: Symbols
A very important technique for making a password is to use a variety of character classes, preferably all four. Combining symbols, numbers, and upper and lower case letters will make your password much more difficult to figure out. For example, guessing the password “ilovecomputers” is a lot easier than guessing “iL0veC0mputer$.
3. Use more than one word.
One-word passwords are too easy for people to crack. If the word is at all related to your name, a hobby, or a common phrase, then there’s a good chance someone will guess it. However, using more than one word makes your password a lot more secure.
4. Think outside the box.
One of the strategies when thinking of a new password is to utilize the phrase technique. Using characters to represent a phrase will make your password a lot more secure than using one (or even several) full words put together. First, you want to think of a phrase. Then, simply assign a character to the first letter of each word in that phrase.
Example: “I love going to the beach” becomes ILg2tB!
The phrase technique is not only safe, but it can help you create a password you’ll actually remember.
5. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
We know it is VERY tempting to use the same password on every account you have. After all, no one wants to remember 30 different passwords. However, using the same password in multiple places puts you at high risk for getting hacked. Instead, try using the same password concept, and only change minor details like symbols or capitalization.
6. Change your password every few months.
This can be annoying, but nevertheless it will definitely improve the security of your passwords. In order to keep your sanity, don’t try making up completely new concepts and passwords, just stick with minor character changes.
7. DO NOT USE THESE.
These are things you should never use to make your password. See below:
- Your first name, last name, middle name, nickname, or company name
- Your birthday
- Complete words (i.e. basketball)
- The words “Password,”“LetMeIn,” or “DontForgetMe”
- Passwords less than 8 characters
- Your phone number, social security number, account number, etc.
- Number-only passwords (i.e. 958392)
- Letter-only passwords (i.e. beachlover)
- Numbers in order (i.e. 1234567 or 7654321)
In case that didn’t do it for you, here’s a list of the worst passwords for the last 5 years:
8. Keep your passwords somewhere secure.
No matter how certain you are that you will remember your password, you’re still human. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have your passwords saved somewhere safe. That way, when you inevitably forget one of them, you don’t have to go through the whole “Forgot Password” or “Reset Password” E-mail ordeal. Here are some free password managers you can use: Dashlane, Password Box and Last Pass.
Now that you have all the tools you need to make great passwords, it’s probably a good idea to examine your current passwords and make sure they follow these rules. Also, feel free to share your newfound knowledge with anyone you consider a friend.