How to Create a Strong Password and Protect Yourself From Online Fraud
How to Make a Difficult Password (That You Can Remember)
- Use a reminder sentence for your unique password.
- Create a personal formula to remember 100s of passwords.
- Use a unique password generator.
Passwords Help Keep Personal Data Secure
Most of us rely on passwords for every day activities; accessing the internet, using a credit card, or gaining access to our workplace. A secure password is the key that unlocks details of your bank account, your social media accounts and your social security benefits. Your password is more valuable than gold to thieves. It can be used to steal your money or to gain access to personal information that can be used to scam you and others.
You should guard your passwords in the same way as your house keys. At home, you have a different key for each door and only lend them out to trusted family and friends. If you lose your house keys, you immediately get all the locks changed.
Likewise, for passwords you should have a unique key for each account. If you “lend” the combination to a colleague, make sure you change the password on your return.
Which of these password security breaches are you guilty of?
What Makes a Strong Password?
A strong password is one that is difficult to guess or unravel. An expert computer hacker will be able to crack most passwords given enough time. Your aim is to make a password long enough and complex enough to deter all but the most tenacious of thieves.
The advice from Microsoft is that a good password:
Is at least eight characters long
Doesn't contain your user name, real name, or company name
Doesn't contain a complete word
Is significantly different from previous passwords
Contains uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
How to Make a Strong Password
1. Use a Reminder Sentence for Your Unique Password
Think of a sentence that is individual to you. It could be a line of your favorite song or it could be a sentence about your life. Whatever you choose, make it something that you are unlikely to forget. You need to be able to make a password that contains numbers, letters and symbols. Create your password by taking the first letter of each word. Then alter some of them to numbers and some to symbols.
For example, my sentence could be “Today is Valentine’s Day and I received twelve red roses.”
Using the first letter of each word gives me the following: TiVDaIrtrr
Now I change the word “twelve” into a number and the word “and” into a symbol. My new password then becomes: TiVD+Ir12rr
The video below gives another example using the same method to create a unique password.
Simple Tips to Choosing a Strong Password
2. Create a Personal Formula to Remember 100s of Passwords
Having a unique password for each account means that you will need to remember tens if not hundreds of different pass-keys. Don’t despair, there’s no need to write them all down! Here is an easy way to remember all these various alphanumeric and symbol combinations. The method involves creating just one personal formula (or master code) that can be customized to suit hundreds of different situations.
Start with a familiar phrase and use the first letters of each word to create a root. For example, the phrase “Stand not upon the order of your going” becomes SNUTOOYG.
Add a number that means something special to you. Then capitalize one letter and make all the others lower case. My root word thus becomes snUtooyg61.
This root remains the same for all your passwords.
For each website or app that you need a password, you can adapt the root to suit the site. For example, for a Pinterest password, add P to the root, making the password PsnUtooyg61. Or for an Amazon password, I would add A to the root to form AsnUtooyg61.
The video below gives further examples of how simple it is to create multiple easy to remember unique passwords using the master-root method.
How to Easily Remember 100's of Different Passwords
3. Use a Unique Password Generator
You may not have the confidence to create your own password. The answer is to either buy a device that creates unique passwords or download an app that generates random alphanumeric symbol combinations. Personally, I prefer to use a physical password manager and vault, as I don’t trust backing-up in the cloud. I recommend the password manager and vault. It is a bit fiddly to set up, but once done, it means all your accounts and devices are secure and you don’t need to worry about forgetting hundreds of different passwords. Hideez Key
If you prefer to use a password manager app, there are many free ones available to download. The video below describes some of the more reputable ones.
The benefit of using a password manager is that once you have created your numerous unique keys, you only need to memorize one master code to access them all. The Hideez Key or your password app locks all your passwords and personal information into a secure vault.
Research by TeleSign Shows Weak Online Security
Research by TeleSign reported in The Daily Mail 08 Jun 2015 revealed the following about online password use.
- One in five of us use online passwords that haven’t been changed in a decade.
- Almost half (47%) rely on at least one password that has not been changed for five years.
- 73% of online accounts are activated by the same password that is also used for another account.
- On average just six unique passwords are used to protect 24 online accounts.
- In the past year, a third of consumers (30%) had an account hacked or password stolen or received a notice that their personal information had been compromised.
- As a result, more than three quarters (80%) of consumers are worried about their online security.
- More than half (54%) use five or fewer passwords across their entire online life, while a fifth (22%) use three or fewer.
(The sample size was 2,000 UK and US consumers).
What's Wrong With Your Password?
When Was the Last Time You Changed Your Password?
It is good practice to change your password every 30 days or so. That way if it is stolen, the hacker has only a limited amount of time to access your account. If you have not changed yours lately, do it now before you forget!
In the video below, Lorrie Faith Cranor describes how she studied thousands of accounts to learn the frequent password choices made that compromise users security. She discusses her findings and the lessons you (and me) should take from them. Be especially worried if your password is something obvious like 123456.
23.2 million hacked victim accounts worldwide used 123456 as password.
42% of Brits expect to lose money to online fraud.
-— UK NCSC Cyber Survey April 2019
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.