What is a Strong Password, and Why Does it Matter?
We live in a world where we are barraged with more online apps, virtual platforms, online services and digital accounts than ever before. And, every single one of them requires a password. Whether it’s your Hulu login credentials or online banking double encryption, you need strong passwords to protect yourself and your personal information no matter where you go on the internet. Combine your ever-growing list of digital accounts with the increasing frequency of data breaches and cybercriminals lying in wait, it is smart to ask yourself, “Just how strong is my password?” and “How many passwords do I really need?” Read our tips on what makes a strong password and how to make a good password to keep yourself, your data and your personal information protected.
How to Create a Strong Password
In reality, it’s common for people to use the same passwords for years. But, experts recommend using a different complex password for every site and account. Let’s face it, it’s less daunting to remember one or two passwords with slight variations. The problem is that many of us not only use similar passwords multiple times, but we use these same variations across multiple platforms too. There are two problems with this:
- If you’ve been using your password for more than a year, it’s likely already been part of a past data breach.
- If you’re reusing passwords across platforms, one breach puts all other platforms at risk.
That means if you’ve saved your personal data or forms of payment on one site, you’ve potentially opened yourself up to breaches on another site by using the same password in both places. For example, perhaps you use the password DogLover123 for your online bank account. Your bank likely has strong security. However, let’s say you have also used that password for your Yahoo email address. But, just a few years ago, Yahoo had one of the most significant data breaches in history, and if your password was compromised there, it could also be used to access your bank account. It is crucial that your passwords should be not only unique in terms of characters and symbols but also unique to the platform they’re being used on. While this might sound like a lofty goal, like your doctor telling you to exercise every day and get at least eight hours of sleep every night, we have some tips and strong password examples to help you keep your accounts secure.
How to Remember Your Passwords
Our number one tip for remembering all those passwords is to use a password manager. There are several advantages to using a password manager, like one of these recommended by PCMag. First, password managers use encryption to keep all your passwords secure in a single location. This beats any spreadsheet or handwritten list, because it provides secure, encrypted access. Second, most password managers have the option to autogenerate, save, and autofill your passwords. These features make it easy to remember, store and secure your passwords. But, if you’re looking for an alternative to generate your own strong passwords, we have some examples and tips to help with that, too.
Things to Avoid When Creating Passwords
Weak vs. Strong Passwords
Weak passwords are easy to spot and easy to hack. Our DogLover123 example above is a primary candidate of what to avoid. Here are examples that illustrate what not to do:
- DO NOT USE common words, phrases or names. A good rule of thumb is to avoid using words found in the dictionary for your password. You also shouldn’t use any information a stranger could know about you. For example, your first or last name, date of birth, year you graduated, etc.
- DO NOT USE sequential letters, numbers and symbols. No more ABC, 123 or !@#. These are easy to guess and leave you vulnerable to hacking.
- DO NOT USE something that relates to our hobbies or interests. Reach outside your interests, especially for your password hints.
What is an Example of a Strong Password?
Strong Password Examples
An easy way to make a strong, memorable password is to make it a sentence. For example, if your password was DogLover123, an alternative making the password stronger would be I<3myGoldenDoodle! Here are some more strong password examples:
They’re not always pretty to look at, but the degree of randomness and a mixture of unpredictable letters and symbols keep your personal data and account secure. Things to keep in mind when creating your password:
- Make it long. At the very least, 8 characters. 12 characters are even better.
- Use a mix of random characters. Uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
- Use a password manager with a password generator. You can find some great recommendations here.
How Strong is Your Password?
Many people don’t see security as an investment, but cyberattacks can result in huge losses for your company. Along with strong passwords, you should also be using two-factor authentication (2FA). If you have questions or need help setting up a password manager or 2FA in your organization, that’s what we’re here for.