How to Create Strong Passwords

 castle and moat

Is your online information valuable to you? What are you willing to do to ensure its protection? When is the last time you changed your password? If the theft of your virtual privacy is something you would lose sleep over, then a strong password is in order. These critical gatekeepers of our virtual identities are our first line of defense against hackers. But what is the best way to create one? Adhering to any of the following three methods will be a formidable way to protect yourself from online thieves.

1. Password Generators. Not feeling very creative when it comes to making a new password? No problem. Go into your favorite search engine and type in “password generators.”  There are numerous free programs to use. Once you have that generated password, go the extra mile to ensure its safety and change a few of the characters in it.

2. Two-factor Authentication (2FA). For your more important accounts, turn on 2FA. When confirming a person's online identity, companies can draw from a combination of options: something you know (like a password), something you are (like a fingerprint), or something you have (like a hardware token or cell phone.) There are a variety of 2FA programs a company will choose to use like Push-Notifications or SMS-Texts. If it is an option for you, consider using it.

3. Old-School. The old-school method of password generation is still a valid way of protecting your privacy. Nevertheless, you will want to follow these guidelines: 

 1. Don’t use your birthdate or name nor weak passwords like “mypassword” or sequential letters or numbers like “qwerty.” 

2. Try a passphrase. It is usually longer than a password, and with its spaces and symbols, it makes it more difficult to hack. For example, “May the Force be with you,” or “I’m the king of the world!” or “You shall not pass!” The options are endless! 

Lastly, changing your password often remains a crucial action for your online identity protection. A password change should occur every 30-180 days depending on the level of security you want. Whichever of the three methods you choose to implement, creating a virtual protective moat around your online identity by using a strong password will greatly reduce your chances of being hacked.

Contributed by A. Mecham