Smart Passwords Strategies: How to Create Secure Passwords
Password security is an important part of your overall online security. A strong password can protect your sensitive data from hackers and prevent you from accessing your accounts. It is important to choose passwords that are difficult to guess and change them regularly. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to create secure passwords or keep them updated. This can leave their accounts vulnerable to attack. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help ensure that your passwords are secure.
What makes a Secure Password?
Secure passwords play a critical role in online safety and data security. When creating passwords, it’s important to understand the best strategies for making them as secure as possible. Here are some key elements for creating a secure password:
- Unique- Each account should have its unique password that is not used on any other account or service. If a password is re-used across multiple accounts, someone who obtains it from one account can gain access to others.
- Length- The longer the password, the harder it is to guess or crack. A strong password should be at least 12 characters long and include a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters such as #$&@%*.
- Complexity- Passwords should not contain real words or common phrases, as they can be easily cracked by automated programs. It’s best to use a mix of symbols, numbers, and letters that don’t make sense together (for example B6%2kK#).
Following these tips can help ensure that your passwords are the most secure and protect your accounts from unauthorized access.
Make Passwords Complex and Unique
Creating secure passwords is not all about coming up with something that only you can remember, but also about making sure it’s hard to guess. A secure password should have a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. A good rule of thumb is that the longer the password is, the more secure it is—so aim for at least 30 characters. When possible, use full phrases instead of just words, such as “I love my cat!” or “Tigers are majestic!”.
Since hackers are constantly looking for ways to crack passwords, it’s important to create unique passwords for every account you have. If the same password is used on multiple accounts, if one account gets hacked then all accounts associated with that same password are vulnerable. A trusted password manager will help keep track of all your passwords in one place and even generate new ones for you as needed.
The Importance of Creating Secure Passwords
Creating secure passwords is critical to protecting yourself and your data. Passwords are the first line of defense against unauthorized access to your accounts. Hackers are always looking for ways to gain access to personal information, so it is important to develop a password strategy to prevent them. Here are a few smart password strategies for creating secure passwords:
- Make them Unique- Create passwords that are difficult for hackers to guess by using a combination of numbers, symbols, and uppercase/lowercase letters. Avoid using common words or phrases as passwords, and be sure not to use any personal information (i.e. full name, address, etc.).
- Create Different Passwords for Different Accounts- This will reduce the risk of multiple accounts being compromised if one account is hacked. To make this easier, create a formula for each account so you can easily remember them all (e.g., “[account name]!8character).
- Change your Passwords Regularly- You should change your passwords every 3-6 months to make it harder for hackers to guess your security codes. Furthermore, try to avoid reusing old passwords since they’ll likely be stored in hackers’ databases.
- Avoid Personal Information in Passwords- No password should be based on personal information, such as one’s name, address, or DOB, as this is not a secure password. Hackers can easily gain access to this kind of information from social media posts and other publicly available sources.
To further protect against hackers and cybercriminals, users should avoid using words found in the dictionary as passwords. The more common the word, the less secure the password is likely to be. Users should also avoid using number sequences or keyboard patterns that are too easy for computers to guess. Here are some tips for creating an effective password:
- Use at least 8 characters
- Include numbers, symbols, and both upper- and lowercase letters
- Avoid using any personal information
- Don’t use dictionary words or keyboard patterns
- Change passwords regularly
Here are some tips for creating strong passphrases:
- Use a memorable phrase: Choose something that you can easily remember, such as a line from your favorite book or movie.
- Include numbers and special characters: A combination of different words, numbers, and symbols makes the phrase even more secure.
- Vary the words: If you use several words in your passphrase, try to choose ones from different parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc).
- Make it long: A passphrase should be at least 12 characters long; the longer it is, the stronger it will be.
- Avoid dictionary words: Passphrases made up of common dictionary words are easier to guess. Try using unique combinations of words instead (e.g., “hippopotamus” instead of “hippopotamus”).
Guidelines for Keeping your Password Safe
It’s essential to remember and follow some basic guidelines when creating new passwords. To maximize the security of your account, you should:
- Use a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Avoid easy-to-guess information such as numbers or words associated with you
- Change your passwords often and make sure not to use the same one more than once
- Do not share your passwords with anyone else
- Use a password manager such as LastPass to store all of your accounts’ credentials in a secure location
- Avoid using public computers or networks when entering sensitive information
- Update passwords at least every 90 days
- Make sure passwords are at least 8 characters long
Follow these guidelines to ensure maximum security for online accounts and protect yourself from cyber criminals who are always looking for ways to compromise users’ data.
Best Practices for Managing your Passwords
Creating secure passwords is only the first step in data security. Similarly important is ensuring that your passwords are managed properly. Here are three key best practices for managing your passwords:
- Create a Dedicated Password Manager- Using a password manager like LastPass or 1Password will ensure that your passwords are kept safe, secure, and accessible when you need them. Creating a ‘password vault’ allows you to store all of your passwords in one place. Also, allow you to lock them with a master key, allowing you to remember one password while keeping all of your other accounts safe.
- Keep your Master Password Secure- Your master password should never be written down or stored anywhere else, such as on your computer, phone, or tablet. The device must be password-protected to prevent unauthorized access to online accounts.
- Update Regularly- Regularly updating passwords is essential for data security maintenance, so set reminders and update all accounts regularly. It is important to have different passwords for each service or system you use. To avoid other accounts being compromised, the attacker won’t have access to all of them.
Setting Up Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an important security measure that further strengthens the protection of your passwords. 2FA is a system where a code is sent to you, either via text message or email, every time you access your account. You must enter this code as part of the login process, adding an extra layer of security to your account. The benefits of using 2FA are clear:
- It reduces the chance of someone accessing your account without your consent.
- It ensures that the person entering the password is indeed you, and only you.
- It helps protect vulnerable accounts from being hacked.
- Setting up 2FA for your accounts is relatively straightforward:
- Look for the ‘two-factor authentication’ option on your account settings page.
- Choose how you want to receive codes – by email or by text message – and then follow the instructions provided by the site, usually involving entering a phone number or email address for when the codes should be sent to you.
- Once complete, use the code whenever logging into your account from any device or browser (you will be prompted for it)
Make sure to store this code somewhere safe but accessible in case you need it later on.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Passwords
Creating secure passwords is essential for protecting data and accounts, but mistakes can be made without realizing it. Here are the top ten mistakes to avoid when creating passwords:
- Reusing the same password or using easy-to-guess variations.
- Use personal information or easily guessable words in your passwords, such as names of family members, birthdays, addresses, etc.
- Using words found in the dictionary or simple letter & number combinations (e.g., abc123).
- Writing down your passwords anywhere – anywhere! Keep them in a secure location only accessible to you alone.
- Hackers can exploit these vulnerabilities by using automatic logins or autofill functions from browsers and apps to store passwords on a local or remote server.
- Sharing your passwords with anyone other than yourself – even if trusted individuals are involved, is still an unwise practice.
- Not changing your passwords regularly – aim to change them at least every 6 months.
- Not logging out of accounts when done using them – especially on public devices like computers in libraries or Internet café.
- Not using two-factor authentication whenever possible.
- Not encrypting sensitive documents and files before sharing them electronically.
Secure passwords can help guard against hackers and cybercriminals who are looking to gain access to your personal information. Furthermore, it is imperative to use the same passwords for all online accounts, as this will further protect you from malicious actors.