Password Security Tips

We have so many passwords to remember these days. Many try to use the same password as many times as possible, only changing it when a site has different password complexity requirements. There are many common patterns that people use for passwords that give us very little security. By using the same password in multiple locations you put more and more of your digital life at risk.

Here are some tips to help you be more secure without too much effort.

  • Don’t use common sequences. ‘qwerty’ ‘12345’ ‘54321’ ‘abcde’ are not acceptable. Please don’t use these.
  • Don’t use common words. ‘password’ is the most common password.
  • Don’t use obvious dates or family member names.
  • You can have different passwords for different sites without making it much more difficult. Consider changing a suffix or prefix for each site, while keeping the same core password the same. Perhaps add the last three letters of the website name to the end of your password. If someone does find one of your passwords, they won’t know the rest of them unless they figure out your pattern.
  • Longer is better. Your passwords should be at least 9 characters long.
  • Some sites require you to use symbols, numbers, upper case letters, and lower case letters. You might as well incorporate this into your base password so it works everywhere.
  • Using words is generally a bad idea, but stringing them together might not be. Try using a phrase that is much longer than a conventional password, but easier to type. XKCD famously suggested “CorrectHorseBatteryStaple” as a superior password, as it is easy to type and remember, but technically much harder for a computer to figure out than “$1C?w9”. Throw in a number and symbol for good measure.
  • Don’t write your password down, but leave yourself hints. If your license plate number is incorporated into your base password, leave a hint like “license plate” on a post-it, rather than writing the entire password.
  • Practice. Getting muscle memory for your core password will help you to remember it. I personally have a few passwords that I couldn’t recite to save my life, but put a keyboard in front of me and I’ll get it every time. What better security is there?