Your password is the key to all of your personal and business information, from your bank account to your cryptocurrency wallet to your tax forms, assuming you file online, like most people. Even when dealing with things like social media, you put personal information out there, and unwittingly give access to hackers which can leave your vulnerable. While some passwords have stronger requirements than others, you should always take steps to craft the strongest possible password, particularly when dealing with anything related to finances or information you want to keep private. Keep these tips in mind when creating the perfect password.
8 Tips for the Perfect Password
Skip the Obvious
This should go without saying, but do not go with an obvious, easy-to-remember password. As hard as it is to believe, some people still use “Password” as their password. Skip obvious things like your name or birthday of your loved ones or best friends. These passwords will be easy to guess for the average person, let alone a cybercriminal with unsavory tools at their disposal. Cybercriminals might also have crawlers that go through your social media accounts to get information you thought was private – like the birthday of your first pet that you posted about once several years ago.
Your Password Needs to Withstand 100 Guesses
As a rule of thumb when trying to pick a password and being tempted by things that you think only you will remember is to make a password that someone will not be able to get within 100 guesses. When mentally going through this test, confirm that even your best friend or significant other could not get it within that number of guesses.
Don’t Reuse Passwords
The average person will reuse a password, at least for things they feel do not require a high level of security. No matter how unimportant you think a particular account is, do not reuse a password. A hacker only needs to discover the password and email address you use to get into one account, and they suddenly have access to dozens. This is particularly problematic if you use the same password for a throwaway online account you needed to create to enter a contest and something that should have additional security, such as your crypto wallet.
Make a Passphrase, Not a Password
One of the most popular methods for making a strong password is actually crafting a passphrase instead of a password. This is effective because you will come up with a string of words that you can memorize with ease but no one else should be able to figure out. This is why so many cryptocurrency wallets give you a passphrase to restore your wallet; it is unlikely anyone will be able to correctly figure it out.
When crafting a passphrase, follow the same rules as above. Avoiding reusing words and phrases from other passwords and try to go with things that others do not know. The ideal passphrase will be 16 to 64 characters, but you can add more if the platform in question lets you. When in doubt, start it off with “ilike…” and go from there. Throw in a food, color, or even a short reference to a childhood memory.
Recent guidelines actually suggest that create 64 character passwords as these longer ones are harder to crack. You can list the street names along a particular route or any random assortment of words you will remember to reach that suggestion.
Work in Numbers and Special Characters
When creating the perfect password you need both lower and upper-case letters, as well as numbers and special characters. Using the passphrase method, this is easier to work in than most people realize. See if you can throw in a percentage, age, year, or something else, such as with “ImetmyBestFriendin2000.”
This method will leave your password more secure as well as memorable. The other popular and simple choice is to swap out letters in a word, such as “@” instead of “a,” “0” instead of “o,” or “!” instead of “i.” So, if you have the word “apple” somewhere in your password, make it “@pple” instead.
Changing It Regularly Isn’t Necessary
Almost everyone hates the idea of having to not only come up with a strong password for every account but then changing it every several months. More recent guidelines say that while some situations definitely call for this, you can typically leave your password alone if it is strong. Most of the time when you have to change your password, you will only do so slightly so you can still remember it, which does more harm than good. Instead, do not change your password unless there is a security breach.
Don’t Pass Up Two-Factor Authentication
Whenever possible, do not rely solely on your password to protect your privacy; add in two-factor authentication. You can set up this feature with a dedicated application, your email address, or smartphone. Every time that you log in using a new device or a new IP address, you will get a notification, as you will when you change your password. The most secure systems will not even let you into your account without sending a code to your chosen email, phone, or app. This way, hackers have no chance of getting into your account, even if they do have your password.
Consider a Password Manager
If the idea of remembering all of your passwords is too overwhelming, particularly after you make them secure, you should consider a password manager. These systems create and then store strong and unique passwords for every account, and you only have to remember the master password for the manager itself. Do your research before using these programs since you do not want to willingly give an unscrupulous company access to all your information.
Creating the perfect password is easier than you may realize, but that does not make it any less important. With a few key factors in mind, you can keep your personal information, including financial details, secure at all times.