Tech Tips

How to Make a Strong Password

how-to-make-a-strong-password

Techs: You need to make a strong password!

The Rest of Us: Stick fingers in our ears and say, “La La La I can’t hear you!” while typing 1234 as our passwords.

Techs: Collectively groan.

Safe computer and phone wrapped in chains

The techs may grumble, but hey, we’re human right? It’s our nature to avoid that which we find difficult, inconvenient, or just plain annoying.

Passwords fit well into that portion of our nature as we seem to be convinced that making a strong password requires a PhD, three hours, and a kidney donation.

Tech is supposed to make our lives easier. For the most part it does, but it’s not perfect, so we do have to put in a little effort from time to time.

The good news is that you can make a strong password without too complex a process. It’s at very least, less difficult than dealing with identity theft. We’ll show you how.

Man-coding-or-hacking-computer
This guy just bought a yacht with your credit card.

First, let’s start with…

Examples of a Bad Password

Data company SplashData, who compiles information regarding leaked passwords, estimates that “almost 10% of people have used at least one of the 25 worst passwords on this year’s list, and nearly 3% of people have used the worst password, 123456.”

computer-keyboard-with-password-123456

Is your password on the list?

  • 123456
  • 2 password
  • 3 123456789
  • 4 12345678
  • 5 12345
  • 6 111111
  • 7 1234567
  • 8 sunshine
  • 9 qwerty
  • 10 iloveyou
  • 11 princess
  • 12 admin
  • 13 welcome
  • 14 666666
  • abc123
  • football
  • 123123
  • monkey
  • 654321
  • !@#$%^&:*
  • charlie
  • aa123456
  • donald
  • password1
  • qwerty123

If you found your password on the list, put on your thinking cap!  It’s time for a new one.  Is your choice not on the list? Sorry, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. 

Remember That Simple Passwords Make for Simple Hacking

The easier a password, the easier it is for hackers to figure them out. Having a simple password is like locking your door and hanging the key off the knob.

person-reaching-for-doorknob-with-keys-in-door

Other Passwords to Avoid

With so much of our personal information readily available on social media, and for good hackers, anywhere on the internet, there are a few passwords you should avoid.

  • Your address or phone number
  • Your/your spouse’s/kid’s birthdays
  • Your favorite sports team
baseball-stadium-top-view

How to Choose a Good Password

Your password should:

Have 12 characters minimum.

  • The longer the password, the harder it is to hack.

Be a mix of symbols, numbers, capital letters & lowercase letters.

  • When using numbers or symbols in your password, avoid substituting them for letters. For example, substituting a zero for an “o” and three for an “e”, thus turning “House” into “H0us3” is not hard for a hacker to figure out. The number substitution is too close to the letters they’re intended to replace. Use symbols in between letters like “Hou125s##”.

Words that naturally go together like “PeanutButterJelly” are likewise, too easy. Nonsensical word combinations with a letter and a symbol thrown in like “Pick#leOra5nge” are best.

But passwords are sooo hard to remember! And everything needs a password nowadays! And, and, and…

I know. By the time you’re finished creating passwords for every account you have, you probably already forgot the first half of them.

But since diversity in passwords across accounts is so important, let’s talk about some…

Making an Even Better Password

Use the first letter of some phrases that you’ll remember easily.

  • For example: “My first car was a ’96 Chevy Beretta!” would translate to Mfcwa’96CB!.

Or, you could tailor separate phrases for each account you have based on the subject of the account.

  • Bank: “I got my savings account when I was 18.” would translate to IgmsawIw18.
  • Amazon: “I love buying stuff on amazon!” would translate to Ilbs$oa!”. Throw a number somewhere in the password for greater password strength.
  • Base your password on the first (or last) letters of the company’s name, slogan, & your favorite item to purchase from them, making sure to insert a number and symbol into the mix. For American Eagle outfitters Live Your Life Jeans & Crop Pants, use AEOlylj&cp59.
write-your-own-rules

Password creation is one of the few times in life where you get to make your own rules!

For example:

  • Always use a number after the fourth letter and a symbol at the end.
  • Use a symbol after the third letter and numbers at the end.
  • Be creative! Take a few moments to think about a rule that will make it easier for you to remember the general order you use for all your passwords.

How to Make a Strong Password That’s Even Easier to Remember

Make your password easier and more fun by stringing four completely random words together like correcthorsebatterystaple as seen below in this comic. It’s amusing, it paints a picture in your mind so it’s easier to recall, and if their calculations are correct, it will take a hacker 550 years to guess.

Comic found at
https://xkcd.com/936/

If you have weak passwords, take some time on a rainy day or Sunday and dedicate some time to modify them. Make it a priority now to save yourself from big headaches later. You’ll be happy you did.

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We’re DRC Technologies and we’re a full-service tech firm located in the Lehigh Valley. If you find yourself stressed about tech, contact us today! For more information about staying safe online, visit our post Computer Viruses-How to Protect Yourself and Safe Online Shopping – 9 Ways to Stay Protected .

how-to-choose-a-strong-password-infographic

Happy passwording!

-S