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3 Ways to Create a Strong Password and Keep Data Secure

Updated on June 27, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Science graduate and business advisor, health educator and author, Beth writes articles on a wide variety of subjects.

Use a Strong Password To Deter Thieves and Hackers

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Passwords Are the Lock and Key to Your Personal Data

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?

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Top 3 Ways to Make a Secure Password
1. Use a reminder sentence for your unique password.
2. Create a personal formula to remember 100s of passwords.
3. Use a unique password generator.
Keep reading this article to learn more about these easy methods of password generation.

Password Security: Dos and Don'ts

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.

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 Different Passwords

3. Use a Unique Password Generator

You may not have the confidence to create your own password. The answer is to download an app that generates a random alphanumeric symbol combination for you. There are many free ones available. I recommend you try the LastPass app. It is both a password generator and a password manager.

The benefit of using a password manager is that once you have created your many unique keys, you only need to memorize one master code to access them all. The app locks your passwords and personal information into a secure vault. The LastPass app can also be used with fingerprint recognition technology for extra security.

How to Create a Strong Password

Research by TeleSign Shows Weak Online Security

The results of research by TeleSign reported in The Daily Mail 08 Jun 2015 revealed the following facts about our 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).

Every app needs a unique password log-on to remain secure.
Every app needs a unique password log-on to remain secure. | Source

When Was the Last Time You Changed Your Password?

It’s good practice to change your password every 30 days or so. That way if it’s stolen, the hacker has only a limited amount of time to access your account. If you haven’t changed yours recently, do it now before you forget!

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  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Isaac Weithers 6 months ago from The Caribbean

    This is such a useful article on how to create strong security passwords, and good reasons why we should. Thank you for posting this.