How to Create a Secure Password.

Like it or not, passwords are now a fact of computer life. They are used to prove your identity on all sorts of websites such as financial sites, shopping pages, social networks, and web email.  An ever increasing amount of information is stored on computer systems, and the only thing you need to view it is a password.  Good password practices are essential for keeping your identity and information safe.  Here are six golden rules you should always follow:

1. Don't share passwords with others

Sharing passwords is risky.  You might think giving out your password to only people you trust is safe, but you cannot control their actions.  By no fault of their own they could use it on an infected computer, or write it down and lose it, and all of a sudden your password is compromised without your knowledge.  If you are the only one who knows your password, only you can compromise it.  Corrective action can be taken immediately.

2. Make passwords hard to guess

Choosing passwords based on your personal information, phone numbers, addresses, names, and other public information is insecure.  Using very simple words is also insecure.  The English dictionary has about 600,000 words, and password cracking programs can try them all in minutes. Not only do they try all the words, they try combinations of numbers too.  If your password is football45, it’s just as insecure as football.

Very large security breaches have happened in the past, exposing the password habits of millions of users. Common passwords are well known. Pick something unique.

3. Use at least 8 characters in the password

Simply put, the longer your password is the longer it takes to crack using password tools.  It’s a very good idea to use a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.  A complex password like $footBALL!45 is much stronger than football45 .

4. Change passwords regularly

Get into the habit of changing your password.  It’s possible your password was breached without your knowledge sometime in the past.  Certain types of spyware will record your keystrokes and send them to criminal organizations for fraudulent use.  Changing your passwords protects against someone saving it and using it later.

5. Use different passwords for different accounts

Never use the same password for different logins and websites.  If someone were to get that password they could get access to everything! Using different passwords for different accounts means only that account can be compromised.  If a hacker gets your password they will try it at every bank website, social networking website,and web email they can find in order to get more information.

6. Store passwords securely

Unless you have super human memorization, chances are you will need to keep a record of your passwords.  If you write them down, keep them stored somewhere safe and out of plain sight.  A locked cabinet, purse, or wallet is a good location.  A post-it note on the monitor is not.

If you save them to a computer file make sure it is password protected and encrypted, and choose a filename that makes no reference to passwords.

You might be wondering how to make a good password that follows these rules.  Choosing random letters and symbols does make strong passwords, but they are not very memorable.  Here is a method you can use to make strong passwords that are also memorable.

Start with a phrase.  A memorable quotation or saying that easily comes to mind: A penny saved is a penny earned

Take only the first letter of each word inyour phrase: apsiape

Now customize it… let’s say it was for a bank login: apsiapebank

Finally, scramble it a little.  Make sure to mix uppercase, lowercase, symbols and numbers: Apsiape2Bank$

You now have a very complicated password which should be a lot easier for you to remember.  Write it down and store it somewhere safe.

Another similar approach is to just use the phrase including all punctuation and spaces. Most systems allow you to usespaces and punctuation in your passwords. So instead of a password you have a full passphrase.  A penny saved is a penny earned.

The spaces and punctuation count as symbols,which makes your password stronger.

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