Keeping up with passwords isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a good time, but strong passwords are an absolute necessity to keep your computer and mobile devices safe from online predators. The problem is they are either too easy for criminals to guess or too hard to remember.
So, how do you get your passwords on the right track? It is possible, with a few simple steps and approaches for staying safe and developing strong passwords that you can remember:
- Avoid the old stand-by passwords. If your favorite password is simply "password" or "123456," stop right now and change it immediately! The most important rule is to create passwords that are not easily guessed by criminals. Using birthdays, anniversaries, or family members' names – all of which are online – is a recipe for disaster. Think deeper about something that has meaning to you but that somebody can't find in public or online records. People, places and dates are all fine as long as they aren't from information criminals can find about you and easily guess.
- Make it a sentence. Once you've decided on a foundation for a password – let's say the name of the restaurant where something funny happened – add more to it. With a long, complicated password, criminals don't stand a chance. Think of a short phrase that you can create with a mix of letters and numbers. And using a blend of letters, numbers and special characters is important, too – and you can even change letters into similar-looking numbers or special characters.
- Mix it up. Now, once you've decided on a master approach to creating a strong password, you also need to create a way for your password to be unique at each site. This is because once criminals have your password at one site, they can search the world wide web for other sites where you use the same security credentials. Use something unique about each site within your password so that it is different from all the others.
- Take advantage of extra security. Choose security questions that others can’t answer and enable multi-factor authentication when it’s available.
- Use a password manager. If all of this sounds too complex, there is something to make it easy. Password managers are software that generates, saves and enters completely unique and secure passwords for you every time you need one. You’ll just need to create one strong password for the password manager itself.
Creating strong passwords may be challenging at first, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort to keep yourself and your personal information safe.
For more tips on staying safe online, visit our Online Fraud Center.