Work email address, home email address, social media accounts, bank and investment accounts – many of the online activities that you perform require passwords for access. Passwords are the key that help ensure that your workplace and personal information remains private and secure, just ask anyone with their information assurance degree. If a hacker should get access to your accounts, they can discover confidential corporate details, steal money from accounts, or make unauthorized purchases. By the time you realize what has happened, the damage – which can be severe – is already done. And with the advanced hacking and techniques, decoding passwords can be done in a matter of hours. Therefore, the need to have strong and secure passwords for each and every one of your professional and personal accounts cannot be understated, especially since passwords can be the weakest link in a computer security system.
We hear a lot about what we shouldn’t have in a password – do not use your name or the name of your family members, do not use birthdays or anniversaries, and don’t include the name of your beloved pet. We also hear that passwords need to be long and complex, and that’s where the difficulty lies – long and complex passwords can be difficult to create and remember. So therein lays the dilemma – how do you make a strong password that you can remember?
Most corporate and software provider policies dictate that passwords must meet certain requirements to be accepted by that system. These requirements tend to follow the same guidelines:
- Must have a minimum number of characters
- Must contain at least one number and one letter
- Must contain upper and lowercase letters
- Must contain at least one special character
With these requirements in mind, it isn’t easy to create a password that is both strong and easy to remember. But there are ways you can do so. Here are five keys to creating a strong password:
- Select a password base: Think of a word or phrase that is simple for you to remember but not easily identifiable. This word will act as the basis for your password. For example, choose the name of the book you last read or the name of a country you wish to visit, such as Australia.
- Mix it up: Typically, every password needs upper and lower case letters, but adding them in randomly is hard to remember. Use a pattern, such as capitalizing every third letter or every vowel. Your password would then be AUstrAlIA.
- Password by numbers: Your password also needs numbers to make it more complex. Just like your password base, add in numbers in such a way that is simple to remember but not easily guessed. For example, if you choose the year when you started high school, you could place them after every second letter in your password. Your password would then be AU1st9rA9lI5A
- Make it special: In addition to the variables above, you probably need at least one special character in your password. Try adding at least two and make them different. Your password could now look like this: $AU1st9rA9lI5A@. It is also 15 characters long, thereby meeting most system minimum length requirements.
- Change it up: Although you have created a great password, hackers have many sophisticated tools to decipher your creation. Make sure you change your password every 30-60 days for additional security.
Everyone knows that creating a strong password is important in overall computer security, but many people may not take the time to think of one that is truly complex. Using the keys above, you can quickly and easily create a password that is both easy to remember, yet difficult to figure out.
About the Author
Maxwell has been using the Internet for 17 years and does his best to make sure separate passwords are used for every website so if one got compromised the risk would be minimal.