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When it comes to the security of social media, email accounts, online payment and e-commerce accounts, passwords are the first line of defense, and sometimes the only one. The problem is, most of the passwords we use to protect our info can be easily guessed and unlocked by hackers. This is why we must learn to create strong passwords in order to prevent hackers from gaining access to our accounts and trifling with personal and corporate information.

So here are few tips that will help you create strong passwords:

1. Your password should be a minimum of 12 characters. Longer passwords generally are safer than short ones. Most online platforms would require a minimum of 8 characters for password length, but it is good to go overboard with this and increase your password length to at least 12 characters and even longer.

2. Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Passwords that have numbers, symbols and a mix of upper and lower case letters are always harder to guess than those that have just letters or numbers. According to Google, an eight-character password with numbers, symbols and mixed-case letters is harder to guess because it has 30,000 times as many possible combinations than an eight-character password with only lower case letters.

When using symbols, avoid common substitutions like “$” for “s”, “@” for “a”, “1” for “l” and so on. For example, “H0use” isn’t strong just because you’ve replaced an o with a 0. That’s rather easy to guess.

3. Do not use common words or personal information. It’s tempting to want to use your personal info or common words to create a password since you can easily recall the password whenever you need it, but such passwords can be easily guessed and will in fact be the first guess a hacker will make. According to PcMag:

  • If the word you use can be found in the dictionary, it’s not a strong password.
  • If you use numbers or letters in the order they appear on the keyboard (“1234” or “qwerty”), it’s not a strong password.
  • If it’s the name of your relatives, your kids, or your pet, favorite team, or city of your birth, guess what—it’s not a strong password.
  • If it’s your birthday, anniversary, date of graduation, even your car license plate number, it’s not a strong password.

Don’t use simple words or phrases like “password” or “letmein,” keyboard patterns such as “qwerty” or “qazwsx,” or sequential patterns such as “abcd1234”. Anyone trying to gain access to your stuff would probably try out these things first, so avoid using them.

4. Make use of a passphrase instead of a password. Who says your password has to be just a ‘word’? Instead of just using a word for your password, you can come up with random words, and then pick their first letters and turn that into your password. It should be a sentence that you can remember but you have to be careful not to string too many related dictionary words together as they can be easily unraveled.

For example, you have a sentence ‘Dogs Bite When Scared But Are Happy When Fed’. From the sentence you can develop a password like DBtWSbahWF3D. Just remember to spice it up with symbols, numbers and upper n lowercase characters. You can also use the entire sentence as it is.

5. You can also develop a strong password by drawing patterns on your keyboard. You have to be very creative with this as your letter pattern cannot be an obvious shape, else anyone can easily guess it. Check out this cool image on Webroot.webroot-tip

The shape in the image represents the letters ‘1qazdrfvgy7’ which looks quite difficult guess. It’s also a bit challenging to recall without having the “W” shape in mind.

6. Strong passwords can also be made by truncating common words and adding the truncated sections together like a sort of password Frankenstein. For example, from the sentence ‘creating strong passwords can be tough!’, you can have CrONgPaDSanB2UFF!

*Note that these tips are to be used together for your password to be strong.

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*Bonus Tips

7. Use a unique password for all your accounts. If you use just one password for all, and it gets compromised somehow, then your whole info is out in the open.

8. Change your passwords regularly.

9. Keep your backup and recovery options up-to-date and secure.

10. Make use of a trusted password manager so as not to lose your password.

11. Add extra layers of protection like biometrics (Fingerprint/Iris scanner) or a verification SMS that will be sent to your phone when you sign in to your account.

See? You too can create strong passwords ☺ – C?U2canCRE8SPwords;-)

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This article was first published on 23rd November 2016


Tobenna is a writer, programmer and musician who is passionate about God, tech, and music. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook by clicking the icons below.

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