How to Make a Strong Password

Is your data at risk? Recent research reports that 64 percent of Americans have experienced a data breach. If you are using a simple password, your data could be easily accessed by a hacker in under a millisecond. You are even more vulnerable if you use the same password for multiple websites.

Internet security experts have warned internet users for decades to use strong passwords, yet these warnings have often been ignored. However, it is imperative to take precautions against hackers to protect your personal information. Read on to find out how you can create secure passwords.

Do Not Use Dictionary Words

Hackers can use a list of dictionary words to crack your password in milliseconds. If your password is only letters or only numbers, your data can be easily accessed. This means you should not use the name of your dog, your telephone number, your birthday or your great grandmother’s name as your password. Not only are these passwords easily hacked by someone who knows you, they can be hacked through brute force by a computer program, exposing your personal data to someone you do not even know.

Common passwords should be avoided as well. Just 25 passwords made up 50 percent of 10 million passwords analyzed in 2016. These include passwords such as “123456”, “qwerty”, “111111” and “password”. Using any of these passwords is an extreme risk to your personal security.

Add Numbers and Symbols

Your best line of defense is to combine letters (both uppercase and lowercase), numbers and symbols to create a strong password. This needs to be done in a way that is unpredictable. Hackers know that most numbers and symbols are tacked on at the end of a password. A password like “kitty01!” (takes nine months to crack) is more secure than “kitty” (.23 milliseconds to crack), but even better would be “0Ki!Tty1” (one decade to crack).

Longer Passwords Are Better Passwords

The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. Each letter added to a password means millions more of possible combinations a brute force attack must try before it comes up with the right combination. While an eight character password can be cracked in a matter of hours, a 12 character password could take centuries.

How to Come Up With a Strong Password

You have learned that passwords should be long and contain letters, numbers and symbols. How do you make a good password that is hard to crack, but still easy for you to remember? A simple trick could help you do this.

To do this, you could use the Schneier scheme. To use the Schneier scheme, you take a phrase and convert that phrase to a string of numbers and symbols. For example, “I eat cereal for breakfast and it is yummy” could become something like “1e@tc4b&itISyum!” All you need to do is remember the phrase. By converting the phrase in this way, you have created a password that is tough to crack.

Storing Your Passwords

Keeping track of passwords can be difficult. Even if you have a good password, using the same password for multiple sites is ill advised. If a hacker gains access to your password from one site, the rest of your accounts using that same password are at risk. Storing your passwords can help you avoid losing all the passwords you have for all your accounts.

Using a password manager can help you keep your passwords in a secure location so you do not have to store them all in your head. Some also include a password generator and a password strength checker. If you are uneasy about storing your passwords in an application, consider the old-fashioned method of writing them down and keeping them in a safe place.

The idea of having your personal data hacked can be frightening, but there are steps you can take to keep your information more secure. Remember when creating passwords to never use the same password twice, to combine letters, numbers and symbols, to use long passwords and to avoid dictionary words. If you do so, your data will be much more secure.

Adam Richards

About Adam Richards

Adam Richards is a semi-retired business professional originally from Bangor, Maine. He spent the majority of his career in sales and marketing where he rose to the marketing lead of a Fortune 1000 company. He then moved on to helping people as a career counselor that specifically helped bring families to self-sufficiency through finding them rewarding careers. He has now returned to Bangor for his retirement and spends his free time writing. This blog will be about everything he learned throughout his career. He'll write on career, workplace, education and technology issues as well as on trends, changes, and advice for the Maine job market and its employers.