07 May Tips for Creating a Secure Password
Your pet’s name, your favorite number, exclamation point. Did I just guess your password? Well, you might want to change it.
Cyber attacks are rampant, and you likely won’t know your information has been leaked until it is far too late. We all know we should be using a different password for each account, and those passwords should be difficult to guess. But what if I told you that making your accounts more secure doesn’t have to be very difficult?
To celebrate World Password Day, I’m going to give you some easy tips to help you add more security to your digital life.
Let’s face it: passwords are hard to remember. And the truth is, the password habits we have grown accustomed to aren’t very secure at all. We use pet’s names, kid’s names, our favorite sports, lucky numbers, anniversaries, birthdays, or even the current year. Most people follow the same password strategy, and that’s making it easier for hackers to guess your passwords, especially with how much information is public through social media.
Password managers are an easy and secure way to store all your passwords. Instead of memorizing or writing down your passwords on a piece of paper, you can make all your passwords as difficult as you want, and your password manager will store them for you.
It will take some time to make this change in your life, but the best thing you can do is make sure your banking and financial accounts are secured first. Over time, you can change your old passwords and add any new accounts to your password manager.
The one downside with a password manager is that you still need a master password to log into your account. And since all your passwords will also be encrypted with your master password, that master password needs to be difficult to prevent hackers from guessing it or decrypting your information. Which leads me to…
Creating a Strong Master Password
Do not use any of your old passwords for your master password. Even if you have a really strong password, there is a good chance that your old password has already been leaked.
So how do we create a unique and strong password that is easy to remember, but difficult to guess? Well if you can memorize this: YM2z0#^!kyJVOAif then go ahead and use that (please don’t actually use the one I just typed. Generate a new password).
If you have a difficult time memorizing that, then let’s create a passphrase. Think of a few words or a phrase that isn’t a quote. It can be a sentence recalling a memorable event in your life, or something silly that you can remember but no one else would guess. An example of this could be “my cousin’s next door neighbor has six toes” or “I like to eat ice cream for breakfast”. Using these phrases on their own with dashes or underscores is already fairly secure, but you can always make it better by adding some capital letters, using some numbers, or adding in some random symbols.
You may not be able to memorize this password right away, so write it down if you need to. Just be careful where you put that paper and who else can read it. And once you’ve successfully memorized your new master password, destroy the piece of paper so you can’t lose it.
One last service you can use to make your accounts secure is two-factor authentication (2FA). You may have noticed in the last couple years that some websites will text you a one-time code when you log in. If you’ve used that, you’re already using 2FA!
2FA is just simply an additional code that you will need to use to log into your account after your password. This code will constantly change, which makes it harder for a hacker to access your account. There are a few different options for 2FA, but you can get started for free with just your phone. Many websites will text you your 2FA access code, but you can also download a free authenticator app if you don’t want to give away your phone number.
If you follow any of these tips today, 2FA is the most important and the easiest to add to your everyday life. It only takes a couple extra seconds to type in your 2FA access code, but a hacker will have a very difficult time logging into your account even if your password was “password”.
Brady Sklenar is a Digital Integration Specialist at 898 Marketing. Brady implements web, search engine optimization, coding, and content strategies throughout various internet and social media channels for 898 Marketing and its clients. Brady is a Canfield, Ohio native, and a graduate of Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems.