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How To Create A Strong Password

From email logins to online banking to community forums, your passwords unlock a variety of personal and sensitive information. The passwords you use for these sites are something you may not put much thought into—until of course, you get hacked.

But don’t worry, protecting yourself online is easy. Follow these simple guidelines to help you create a strong password that keeps your information safe from being stolen or misused.

Use letter, numbers, and special characters

Avoid using simple names—especially your own name, your spouse, or cat’s name—as passwords. If you must use a name, the addition of capital letters and numbers will make the password much harder to crack. However, make sure the numbers are random and not vital information like your birthday, anniversary, or address. (example: M1sterMuff1ns15)

To increase password security, add special characters like $%#&!*. Use them to replace letters, so the password is still relatively easy for you to remember. (example: M1$terMuff#ns15)

Avoid sequential order

Even though a password like asdfghjkl looks like gibberish, it’s actually a pretty easy password to crack. In case you’re not sure why—it’s all the letters in the middle row of a keyboard.

Similarly, adding sequential numbers to the end of your password also does not add security. Password1234 is no more secure than password.

Avoid common words

Common words, especially words related to computer or Internet access, are among the least secure passwords out there. Never use password, guest, wifi, or similar type words. Also, single words, like monkey, batman, or cereal, are big no-nos for passwords.

Don’t use the same password for every site

This is one of the harder guidelines to follow. It’s so easy to remember one password for the multitude of things you log into. But it is essential to come up with different passwords for each login because if one login is compromised, then all your information is up for grabs. If you have trouble remembering, try using a password manager, like Password Safe or Password Genie. You can also save passwords on your browser for each login you choose.

Change your passwords often

Most experts say passwords should be changed every 3-6 months, depending on the type of site. For example, online banking passwords should be changed more frequently because it accesses highly-sensitive information. Set a reminder on your calendar, or time your password changes at the same time as your antivirus software updates.

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