If you’ve spent even a few minutes of your life near a computer, you’ve probably already been schooled on the need for strong, unique passwords.
Strong passwords are typically between eight and twelve characters’ long, and they contain a seemingly random combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Unique passwords, as the name suggests, are only used on one account in order to avoid turning over access to your entire digital life to a hacker who gets a hold of one password.
But as statistics show, far too many people use weak passwords and reuse their passwords on multiple accounts. How do you avoid falling into that trap? By creating a strong enough password that’s easily remembered, and then creating a new one for every single login account.
Some tech users with a high volume of sensitive accounts choose to use a password manager. These apps not only let you log in once with an ultra-strength password, they also generate lengthy, unguessable, and random strings of characters for all of your other accounts. This is a good option for people whose accounts may be on the more sensitive end, such as those who have work-related or proprietary information being shared online.
For a typical tech user, though, it’s possible to come up with your own passwords and build them in such a way that you can keep up with them. One fun way to build your memorable-yet-safe password is to generate a “system” in which you take a piece of information, such as your favorite song, and embed other pieces of information in it.
Here’s an example:
These Boots Are Made For Walking + your aunt’s phone number + name of the website
You take one letter from the song, one digit from the phone number, and one letter from the website, then keep repeating that pattern. With this system, your password might look like this:
That’s the first letters of each word in the song, then the digits of the phone number, then the name of the website, in this case, Amazon, all stacked in repeating order one at a time. The end result is a strong password that will only be used on that site. To use that same song and phone number on another site, such as PayPal, the letters that spell out Amazon would come out and the letters that spell PayPal would go in. It’s easy to remember, yet still lengthy and seemingly random.
Now, it is possible that someone who discovers your Amazon password could test out this method on another site, but they would have no reason to know why you chose those letters. They might count the digits and realize it could be a phone number, but again, by using someone distantly connected to you, it’s less likely that someone in your vicinity would connect those dots.
The important thing to understand about hacked passwords is that cybercriminals don’t sit at a keyboard and poke the buttons, hoping to guess the right combination. They have software that can make billions of guesses per second, and they start with things like names or words, sequential numbers or letters, and commonly used passwords. The longer and more seemingly random your password is, the safer your accounts will be.
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