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13 Tips for Creating Safer Passwords

June 1, 2011 3 Min Read Technology Solutions
Sassan S. Hejazi, Ph.D.
Sassan S. Hejazi, Ph.D. Director-in-Charge, Technology Solutions

Passwords are the virtual keys to some of your most valuable information. They keep the personal “personal” and the private “private,” protecting your desktop applications, email boxes, and online shopping accounts. Yet, not all passwords are created equal, and they deserve more attention—both in their conception and handling.

As passwords have become so much a part of our daily lives, many of us treat them with casual indifference. As a result, we too often forego security for convenience and create weak, easy-to-guess passwords. We store these “secret” words on our desktops. We tape them to our computer screens. But, with a little ingenuity and attention to detail, you can easily create and track rock-solid passwords. You also can get some assistance from password management tools to keep your virtual keys safe and to ensure your passwords operate as powerful complements, not liabilities, to your security system.

Build strong

It's tempting to use your birth date, your dog's name, or even the street where you grew up as your password. The problem is that these passwords are as obvious to hackers as they are to you. The challenge in creating a hacker-proof password is to make the password difficult to guess without making it impossible for you to remember. To create and maintain strong passwords, start with these suggestions:

  • Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.
  • Make sure your passwords are at least eight characters. The more characters your passwords contain, the more difficult they are to guess.
  • Try to make your passwords as meaningless and random as possible.
  • Use different passwords for each account.
  • Change your passwords regularly. Set up a routine, changing your passwords the first of each month or every other payday.
  • Never write down your passwords and never give them out—to anyone.

Avoid weak

While these tips can help you build and maintain strong passwords, you also need to make certain your passwords don't fall into an easy-to-guess category. To avoid weak passwords, consider these suggestions:

  • Don't use names or numbers associated with you, such as a birth date or nickname.
  • Don't use your user name or log-in name in any form.
  • Don't use a derivative of your name, the name of a family member, or the name of a pet.
  • Avoid using a solitary word in any language.
  • Don't use the word password.
  • Avoid using easily obtained personal information. This includes license plate numbers, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, your automobile's make or model, your street address, etc.
  • Don't answer yes when prompted to save your password to a particular computer. Instead, rely on a strong password committed to memory or stored in a dependable password management program.

Sassan S. Hejazi can be reached at Email or 215.441.4600.


Contact the Author

Sassan S. Hejazi, Ph.D.

Sassan S. Hejazi, Ph.D.

Director-in-Charge, Technology Solutions

Manufacturing & Distribution Specialist, Technology Solutions Specialist, Digital Transformation Specialist, Cyber Advisory Specialist, Microsoft Cloud Specialist

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