10 Tips for Creating Strong Passwords and Staying Cyber Safe

10 Tips for Creating Strong Passwords and Staying Cyber Safe

Create a better, badder password. Why do you spend more time counting your steps than on creating a strong password? My guide with 10 tips to creating a strong password.

My passionate take on passwords:

While I was over at a girlfriend’s house recently, a few of us were chatting and sharing some of our favorite time-saving apps for family life.  Our hostess wanted to act immediately by downloading them as we chatted.  But, conversation quickly switched to a game of “password guess,” where we, collectively, attempted to crack her Apple password. When we guessed the code, my mind went spinning.  My peers pride themselves on making well-researched decisions about health, finances and even the kind of water consumed. Why are so many of us still stuck with college mascots and offspring names as our default passwords?

Strong passwords are the best way to ward off cyber crime and protect yourself online

Cyber crime is one of the greatest threats facing our country, and has enormous implications for our national security, economic prosperity and public safety. In May of last year, a SINGLE hacker collected 272 million email address and passwords from Gmail, Yahoo and others sites and sold them. There’s NO WAY of knowing if yours was involved, either. Over the years, I have covered cyber security extensively. I feel passionately about the need for better safeguarding and awareness about threats.

Initially, password makeovers are daunting and time-consuming. After the overhaul, remembering passwords for different sites and updating them become routine, though always with some effort.  Gone are the days of “copy and paste” passwords for the sites you visit.

Password Tips 101:

  1. Change passwords annually, if not more.  Some sites, like Hotmail, allow you to opt into an automatic expiration every quarter. Do that too

  2. Never reuse passwords on different sites. Each site you visit should have a unique password. Read on for some help with this

  3. Opt into 2-factor authentication. Get a text alert when there are attempts at logging in from different devices, as an added layer of security

  4. Create hard-to-crack passwords that you can remember.  Being able to recall your password is just as important as its strength

So how do you create that killer password that you can also remember? Password managers like Dashlane and 1Password are a great stop for password management (see my previous post).  But, understandably, there are trust issues when it comes to outsourcing password managers.  For readers interested in getting more sophisticated on their own, consider the following:

Mix and Match The Following Techniques to Create Strong Passwords

  • Avoid personally identifiable or common phrase like “abc123” or “qwerty987,” instead consider:

1. Use numbers, punctuation to replace letters in your passcode:  

India =  “1nd1@” or “!nd!a”                           Spooky Halloween =  “sPo0kyh@ll0w3En”

2. Double the password, leave out the space:     

India India = “1nd1@1nd1@”

3. Abbreviate Meaningful Phrases:

Year of the Rooster = “YotR”                         Apple a day = “@ppl3@D@y”

4. Create unusual sentences:

“ShibaniLovesYellowTurtles”                      “$hib@niL0ve$Y3ll0wTurtl3$”

5. Remove vowels from easy-to-remember phrases:

Bermuda Love = “BrmdLv”                         Wheel of Fortune = “WhlfFrtn”

6. Add extensions to change a base password:

Add a year: Year of the Rooster 2017 = “Y0TR17” Add website clue: Year of the Rooster GMAIL = “Y0TRgml”

Mix and match these techniques for more secure logins. For those who feel they must have their passwords written down, some cautionary advice: be sure to write your passwords down in shorthand. Never write your passwords out verbatim or tape your password list to your  monitor (ahem, like I *may* have back in the day). Store in a safe or somewhere FAR away from your computer.

 

 

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