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Picking the right password

Your password is the key to your life online – your virtual identity, lifestyle and finances. Just as a house or car key should be difficult to copy, it’s important to pick a password that’s difficult to guess.

Tip 1: The longer the better.

Short passwords are easier to crack; software designed to process letter combinations can find yours in a matter of seconds. But just add a few more characters, and it takes significantly longer to figure out. Make sure your passwords are at least eight characters long.

Tip 2: Use strange word choices, misspellings, numbers and symbols.

When it comes to passwords, spelling and grammar need not apply. In fact, using a proper dictionary word reduces password security, as automatic password finders can process known words with ease. Feel free to misspell, use numbers and punctuation marks, and even combinations of multiple words.
If you must write your password down, don’t keep it near your computer.

Tip 3: Avoid low-effort passwords.

Among the most common are “qwerty”, “abc123”, “asdfasdf”, “123456” and “password” – low-effort passwords that don’t take much time to create or type, hence the most obvious for a thief to try. Choose a password that requires both hands to type and letters from separate sections of the keyboard.

Tip 4: Use different passwords for different sites.

Alternatively, if you use too many sites for this to be practical, pick a handful of passwords to distribute over your online activities. So if security is compromised on one site, any potential damage is limited only to the accounts that share the same password.

One comment

  1. dp says:

    Another tip is to choose a nursery rhyme or saying of a few sentences and take the first letter of each word. You can say it to yourself as you type it each time. Just don’t choose an obvious rhyme though, I guess.

    I love the lastpass product for helping to choose different unguessable passwords for every site and storing them securely AND getting them back again inside the browser when you want to login

    It is a bit of a geeky tool, but have a look at https://lastpass.com for more info.

    dp.

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