The article “15 Tips to Better Passwords” by Robert Siciliano, who is a McAfee Consultant and Identity Theft Expert, offers some very helpful tips for creating strong passwords and keeping them secure. Here are a few of the most helpful hints:
- Using a phrase that you find a customized way to type (for instance, 2B_or_not2B (which is probaby too obvious), is an especially good idea.
- Using any words or numbers associated with your life (birthday, kids’ names, etc) is a bad idea, but many people do that.
- Don’t use “password,” “123456,” “abcdef” or similar obvious keyboard combinations like “qwerty.”
- Every place you log in should have its own password. Reusing passwords increases the possibility of getting hacked.
- Use at least 8 characters, mixing numbers, letters, and symbols. More characters is better.
- If you need to write down passwords, never keep them near your computer.
- Instead of writing down your passwords, create a tip sheet. For instance: “Gmail Shakespeare” could remind you that your gmail password is 2B_or_not2b (coding it to remind you of symbols and capitalization would be helpful)
- If possible, avoid logging into sites that require a password (banking sites, email, etc) when you are on an insecure public network, such as an airport.
- Don’t share your passwords with people. (If you have a password that needs to be shared–Netflix or something similar–make sure it’s different from all your other passwords. Ideally, you shouldn’t share any passwords, but in the real world, that’s unrealistic.)
There are sites designed to keep your passwords secure. (The password manager that I use, LastPass, works with my Andriod phone as well as on my computer. There’s a free version that is highly rated) The article “5 Best Password Managers” can help guide you if you’re interested in trying this approach to password security.