5 Tips for Strong Passwords

A strong password can make the difference between a secure online account and your information being sold across the internet.  Most sites now have strict requirements that passwords meet a certain level of strength, usually by requiring a certain number of characters and including capital letters, numbers, or special characters.  If you feel a bit overwhelmed by all this, you’re not alone. Here are a few tips for creating strong passwords.

  1. Use phrases instead of words.  The more characters, the stronger your password.  So use a full phrase like 6RosesinMyGarden! or Familyof3?Dogs instead of trying to stretch out a single word. 
  2. Sprinkle your numbers and special characters throughout your password.  It’s very common to tack a number or special character onto the end of a password (who hasn’t ended a password with 1!), but that makes it easier to hack.  Remember that you can put numbers and special characters anywhere in your passphrase.
  3. There are more than two special characters!  Sure, the exclamation and question marks are the easiest to think of, but there are lots more special characters to choose from.  Some sites don’t allow use of “@” or commas in passwords, but you can almost always use “$” or “&”.  That ampersand can be especially useful in creating longer phrases you can easily remember.
  4. Don’t use significant dates.  Never use your birthday, your kids’ birthdays, your age, or the current year in a password.  The only exception there is if you use a system that requires you to change your password regularly, in which case you might use the current year when you reset it.
  5. Archaic words are a good choice, too!  Lots of archaic words are long and many are such fun to say that you won’t forget them.  Words like “snollygoster”, “fandangle”, or “rapscallion” can make great foundations for passwords and are unlikely to be on any list of often-hacked choices.  If you’re especially literary-minded, try a Shakespearean insult generator for some fun ideas.  

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