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4 Best Practices to Make More Secure Passwords

By: Jessica Clifford

secure passwords

Passwords are important. Sometimes they are the first and possibly the only defense against a cyberattack on your essential information. We all have personal information that we want to keep a secret, but some of us have sensitive business information such as those crucial trade secrets, financial data, intellectual information, and customer lists that we want secure from the world’s savviest hackers.

Knowing the list of best practices for secure passwords will prevent you from enduring the next password horror story.

Free E-book: Defend your company against data breaches

Best Practices

One of the worst pop up messages is the one telling you that your password has expired. If you never received one of those, there is always that guilt itching at the back of your mind when you type in the same password that you have used for the past two years – knowing you should finally take the few minutes to change it.

I understand these pains because making a new password is difficult, but a good password is supposed to be just that. There are three things you must remember when creating a password.

  • Length

Probability is never wrong. In the case of passwords, it is much harder for hackers to crack it if it is long, even if they use a password cracking program. There are always different maximums and minimums for how long your password should be, but an average range would be between 12-14 characters.

  • Width

This essentially means that your passwords should contain mixed characters. Make sure your passwords have a combination of upper and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. But as a forewarning, do not place all of your special characters or numbers in the beginning or end of your password because that defeats the purpose of making it harder to guess. Example: 7824Box@#

  • Depth

With the plethora of passwords we are required to have – for instance we have our online bank account, office computer, personal computer, Netflix account, email accounts, and more – it can be tedious to remember each one. Unfortunately, I do not have better news for you.

No longer are dictionary words acceptable when making a strong password, instead mnemonic devices are the best choice. For example, you take a phrase such as ‘Jack jumped over a candle stick’ and turn into a password using only the first letters of each word: Jjoacs.

As a reminder, passwords should not use dictionary words or names. Also, if you have a password with a common word spelled backwards or translated into a foreign word, you should change it now. Most password cracking programs include these variations of words.

Security Tips

Like many of you, I have fallen into the rut of using the same or nearly the same password for several accounts. At one point, I could sign into all of my accounts without second-guessing any of them. If I did not do that, then I would have my computer remember my password so that I did not have to waste time typing it in again and again.

These are such bad habits to get into, but it is so easy to fall prey. Some other bad habits include:

  • Writing a list of passwords on a Post-It note
  • Using sports teams or pop culture terms in passwords
  • Passwords based off of keyboard patterns (ex: qwertyu)
  • Not changing passwords often enough (Once, twice a year)
  • Passwords with important numbers
  • Passwords with a single word, followed by a single number (ex: supermom1)
  • Giving passwords out to other people

Many password security tips and best practices seem obvious for most people in this generation, but there are many people who still do not put what they learn into practice. Making passwords are never exciting and remembering them are not always that easy, but keeping yourself safe from cybercriminals is a must in today’s technological age. Are you looking for a second opinion about your network’s safety? Total Computer Solutions offers a free no obligation appointment to get you started.

Culture of security