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How to Choose a Strong and Secure Password

How to Choose a Strong and Secure Password

Internet users are torn between their need to protect online privacy and the challenge of creating easy-to-remember and secure passwords. However, there is always a way out. This article will guide you in choosing and creating strong and secure passwords.
Anuja Marathe Kanhere
Internet has become a predominant feature of our lives, be it for personal banking, emailing or for socializing. For many of us, Internet is the epitome of ease and convenience. However, none of the latest technologies are foolproof. Internet is a place where personal privacy is vulnerable and cyber crimes are rampant. The only way to secure your privacy and assets is to learn the art of creating some unique personal passwords. Here is how you can do it.
How to Choose a Strong Password
Change Passwords Regularly
First things first! And I literally mean it. We read about cyber crimes practically every day, yet most of you continue to use the same old passwords for ages. If you are one of them, then take a break from reading my article and change your old passwords on priority. Whenever I say this, I usually get responses like 'Changing passwords is tedious!' or 'My password is safe and secure in my mind!'. Trust me, creating new passwords every now and then is not a very mind-boggling task. The hacking software used by cyber criminals can crack down some of the most unexpected passwords. So smarten up your online user IDs by changing your passwords every three months for your e-mail accounts or social networking sites, and once a month for your online banking logins. If you are forgetful, set up online reminders for a password change.
Password Length
Experts suggest the ideal length of passwords to be eight characters or more. Some of us feel that a smaller password is easy to recollect. However, smaller passwords are easier to hack as they require lesser permutations and combinations of characters.
Combination Passwords
The strongest and most secure passwords are those which have a unique combination of alphabets, numerals, special characters and symbols. Most of us have a tendency to make passwords that are either completely alphabetic or numeric. Such passwords are easier to track and therefore, spell danger for your online privacy and security.
Variety
A few of us have a tendency to choose a single, easy-to-remember password and use it for every kind of personal login, viz., online banking, email accounts, shopping websites. If a hacker is smart and lucky enough to get hold of your password on one of the sites, he may use the opportunity to try your login name and password on other sites as well. In this case, it is best to create a separate password for each and every login ID that you may possess.
Fresh Passwords
Creating and memorizing passwords can be difficult for some people. So they create a set of five to six passwords for their email accounts or online banking. These passwords are generally used by them in rotation. However, I suggest my readers to create fresh passwords for logins. When I suggest usage of fresh passwords, I mean to say that passwords when used once, should not be repeated for a particular login.
What to Avoid When Creating Secure Passwords
Avoid creating passwords from your first and last names. Similarly, avoid passwords by writing your first and last names in reverse. Do not use your pet names for passwords.
Keep away from names of your family members, native town or birth date. Such passwords can be really obvious to the hacker.
It is suggested that you should avoid creating passwords that sound very similar to your login IDs.
Using your passport number, social security number or driver's license number for creating passwords is not recommended either.
People make a common mistake of creating passwords with numbers or alphabets in a particular sequence. e.g., 123456 or abc123. This should be completely avoided.
It seems easy to create passwords with alphabets that lie in a sequence on a standard computer keyboard. e.g., asdfgh, xcvbnm. However, such passwords are easy to crack and should be avoided at all costs.
Stay away from inventing passwords with actual dictionary words from any particular language.
When creating passwords with alphabets, avoid creation of passwords from a single type of case. e.g., ABC or abc. Instead, ensure to make random usage of both upper as well as lower case.
There is a list of passwords that users are bound to use along with their login IDs. These passwords should be avoided by Internet users at all costs. I have listed below some commonly used passwords for your reference, e.g., PASSWORD, MONKEY, ILUVYOU, PRINCESS, ABC123, 123456789, SHADOW, DISCREET, SECRET.
Password Creation Ideas
Some of you might find yourself at a dead end, each time you sit and try creating a password. However, I have a few ideas to help create some of the easiest, strongest and secure passwords.
Idea#1
Are you a foodie? Do you love humming your favorite songs while you work? Well, you can create some of the strongest passwords using the name of your favorite delicacy or song. For instance, if your favorite song is Paradise, then you need to make slight variations to the word and sprinkle some symbols and punctuations in between to create a password which might look like p@raD!Se. You can make further variations in it by using numerals between the password which might look like p@ra80D!Se. So now, you can know your password by heart each time you eat or hum your song.
Idea#2
You can create some strong and secure passwords by stringing together words of a particular phrase, idiom or proverb from your language. e.g., 'Old is Gold' can be converted into a password by writing it in a unique way as 01D!Sg01D. A close scrutiny will help you see the proverb in the password.
Idea#3
Here is another great idea for creation of unique passwords. All you need to do is think of your favorite quote or proverb. e.g. All that glitters is not gold. Now turn the quote into its acronym by picking only the first alphabet of each words. This might look like 'ATGING'. Carefully modify the acronym by adding some numerals or symbols in between these alphabets. Now the password may look like ATG420ing. Here the numerals may stand for anything, be it a friend's birth date, your street number or the date on which you create the password!
Having created your password, it is utmost necessary to remember it. If you have to pull your hair out while recollecting your passwords, make sure to create a secret question for your logins, which will simplify the recollection process. The other option is to jot down your passwords on websites like LastPass or KeePass. However, I cannot vouch for their complete security and secrecy either. I have one last piece of advice for you. Never ever scribble your passwords in a diary or on a piece of paper. It will defeat the whole idea of creating strong and secure passwords.