Create Stong Password

Creating a strong password is very important to keep all your information safe.  It is also important to create passwords that you can easily remember but are difficult for a computer to guess in a certain amount of time.  Below are some rules to help you create strong passwords.

  • Length – Make your passwords long. In general, the longer the password the more time it would take a computer to guess your password.  Most systems require a minimum 8 characters.
  • Complexity – Use the entire keyboard to create your password.  Include letters, numbers, punctuation and symbols in your password.  Most systems will tell you what characters are allowed in the password.  To increase complexity stay away from common word-to-letter, word-to-number, letter-to-number conversions. Some examples include changing “to” to “2”, “for” to “4”, “e” to “3”, “s” to “5”, and “and” to “&”.  It is safer to create your own conversion rules for passwords.  Never share your conversion rules with anyone.
  • Variety – Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.  Criminals that steal passwords on one website will likely try the same username and password on other websites.  If you use the same password they will gain access to more than just one of your accounts.  Protect yourself by creating a password for each site and if possible a unique username for each site (this is not possible on most websites since they use your email address but when possible use it).
  • Replace– Passwords are safe for only a certain amount of time.  It is best to change your passwords at least twice a year.  This is done for a variety of reasons.  If a person was trying to crack your password by changing it you have caused them to start over again in cracking it.  If your account has been compromised without your knowledge changing the password keeps it from being insecure for a shorter amount of time.
  • Avoid
    • Using personal information such as your name, birthday, family members names, pet names, etc.
    • Dictionary words in any language
    • Words spelled backwards, common misspellings and abbreviations
    • Sequences or adjacent letters on the keyboard.

Sample Strategy

What to do Example
Start with a sentence or two  Complex passwords are not square.
Remove the spaces between the words in the sentence  complexpasswordsarenotsquare.
Turn words into shorthand, intentionally misspell works, and use your own conversion rules  cmplx9aSswor6sRnotL7
Add length with numbers, punctuation, or symbols  cmplx9aSswor6sRnotL74262012!
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