Coming up with a strong password is your first line of defense in protecting your online accounts. Passwords are attached to just about every account you hold from social media to online banking to online shopping, so it is imperative you make your passwords strong and difficult to crack.
Here are four ways to toughen up your passwords:
DO utilize the variety of characters provided.
Many online accounts now require you to have more than just lowercase letters in your password (and for good reason). Using a variety of characters – both upper and lowercase, numbers, and/or special characters (i.e. periods, dashes, dollar signs, etc.) – makes it harder for both people and computers to arrange the right order of characters to crack your password than it is when you have one made of only letters.
DO utilize “passphrases.”
Using one or two words for passwords makes it easier for us to remember. However, these passwords are easier to crack as well. “Passphrases” are longer and stronger versions of passwords that can be just as easy to remember when you are connected to it, and a lot harder for an outsider to figure out. For example, if you tend to use your pet’s name for passwords consider switching from “snowball123” to “MywhitecatisSnowball.” This password is longer, uses more of a variety of characters and would consequently be harder for hackers to get past than the original.
DON’T use common passwords, even for small, “irrelevant” accounts.
Even the smallest more “irrelevant” accounts out there hold personal information about you that cybercriminals can use to get in to other accounts. Every password you create should be made with your security in mind. Avoid common phrases like “password,” pin codes like “1234,” or easily accessible facts like your last name.
DON’T keep it short.
Longer passwords are harder to crack than shorter ones, especially when it is made up of a variety of characters. The time it can take for someone to crack a six-character code compared to one with 16 characters can shock you. And, while you may think that having a 16-character password sounds hard to remember, note that the passphrase we’ve just created (MywhitecatisSnowball.) is 21 characters.
Unfortunately, due to the advancement of technology and cybercriminals’ abilities to learn new ways to commit their crimes, you can never be 100% safe from attacks, despite your best efforts. However, combining strong passwords with other safe online practices gives you a better chance of warding off cyberattacks.
How long would it take to crack your passcode? A tool provided by BetterBuys.com can give you an idea on how strong your password is and how easy it would be to get in to your accounts.