By Michael Miller
Creating a “Strong and Secure” password has become more challenging as hackers’ code-breaking techniques have become increasingly sophisticated. A “strong password” should contain a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and punctuation, and should not contain common words, primitive letter/number combinations or birthdates, like “abcd1234” or “johnjoseph112582.”
In addition to creating strong passwords, you should also create UNIQUE passwords for each of your sensitive online accounts. That means not having the same password for Amazon that you do for your online banking, or for your email passwords. Of course this adds up to a lot of memorization and inconvenience. I wish it wasn’t necessary, but it is. Your privacy, credit rating, financial security and even identity ARE at risk if you don’t follow safe password protocol.
Here's a tip that can help you create and remember strong passwords.
(Please don't use any of the following examples when creating your own unique password…)
1. Think of a phrase you will remember, for instance “freedom for all.”
2. Look at your computer keyboard and identify numbers and symbols that look like, or can replace the letters. In my example you can replace:
If you apply this method to the phrase “freedom for all” you will end up with a password that looks like this: fr33d0m4@77
3. For added security strength, pick a punctuation symbol that you will remember and create “bookends” around your password by adding this arbitrary symbol to the front and back of the password. Finally, alternate upper and lower case letters in the order they appear, like this:
You'll probably want to make a backup of all your new passwords, so write them down on paper – don’t store them digitally! When you write them, also come up with an abbreviation for what website they are associated with. For example, AN - fr33d0m4@77, might mean Amazon. Some people even draw icons or other pics to jog their memory.
Also, if you do write your passwords down, keep the password list with you… not on a Post-it attached to the bottom of your keyboard, or somewhere snooping hands would search.