Choosing a Strong Password

Passwords are your first line of defense against cybercrime.

Your passwords grant access to virtually everything, so it is extremely important to not only create strong passwords but to change them frequently. Additionally, it is equally important to never use the same password for different websites and applications, because if one were to become compromised, all of your secure access could be jeopardized. 

With many passwords to remember, it is tempting to choose one simple password and to use it for everything, but that can put your personal information at great risk. For example, if your personal e-mail password is compromised and you use the same password for Digital Banking, it puts you at much greater risk.

To protect yourself, your information, and your accounts, create strong passwords that are difficult for someone else to guess, while still being relatively easy for you to remember.

Common Methods of Password Hacking

Data breaches are only one way that fraudsters and identity thieves can get your password. Sometimes a brute force attack is used, where a hacker will try to guess your password, using programs that try hundreds or thousands of passwords until they find the right one. Or if your password is based on personal information, someone may be able to guess your password with a little research about you on social media or other publicly available resources.

So, what makes a password strong?

The longer and more complex the password, the better. Strong passwords should be at least ten (10) characters long and should contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters (#, $, ^, &,!,?, {, >, etc.). They should not be based on personal information that can be easily guessed. If your password is based on personal information like you date of birth, someone may be able to easily guess your password with little research about you especially if that information is available on social media or other publicly available websites.

The difficulty with complex passwords is that they can be hard to remember. One suggestion is to create a password from a sentence or phrase that is easy to remember. For example, start with the sentence "My children John and Mary are 12 and 16 years old." Then use the first letters of the words, characters, and the numbers to create "McJ&Ma12&16yo" as your password. This method helps to create a secure password that is 13 characters in length by remembering a simple phrase.

Keeping Your Password Safe

Once you have established a complex password, do not use it for everything. Make it unique to one site. Never write your password down because if someone were to find it, your personal information for that website could be accessed. A good practice is to change your password at least once every 90 days. 

Using a Password Generator

Using a password generator is an alternative to creating your own password. These computer programs will generate passwords that are long and complex. However, passwords generated can also be more difficult to remember than a password you create yourself.


Strong Passwords Training

Strong Passwords Training

For information on how to create strong passwords, visit our Digital Defense Training Center.

Digital Defense Training Center