How to Choose a Strong Password

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Aimie Qual
(Last Updated: ) | Reading Time: 3 minutes
password dialog
password dialog

Why Should I Create a Strong Password?

Passwords are your first line of defense to protect your online accounts, safeguard your personal information, and secure your home network. Given enough time a password can be guessed, so it is your job to make it as hard as possible for a person or computer program to guess your password.

When creating a new password, make sure that it is a strong password. A strong password is made up of 14 to 20 characters and is a mix of upper case, lower case, numbers 0 to 9, and punctuation symbols (!,#,$,&,=). Also, your password should not be made up of names or words or other familiar character combinations. It is easy to give in and use a simple password that anyone can guess but a strong password is essential for proper network security and for keeping the information in your online accounts safe.

Passwords to Avoid

Stay away from common password combinations since they are the first things an attacker may use to figure out a password. There are some very good password cracking programs out there that hackers may try to use. Creating a strong password is your best defense against those types of programs. Here are a few simple rules to follow to create a strong password:

  • Avoid common passwords like: qwerty, 12345, password, abc123, 11111, or anything similar
  • Any kind of name should be avoided like: your name, username, nickname, spouse's name, loved one's name, or the name of a pet
  • Avoid including personal information such as phone number, ID number, birthdays, or anniversaries.
  • It is not a good idea to use a palindrome, which is a word that is spelled the same forwards and backwards, such as "racecar" or "adogapanicinapagoda"
  • It is also not advised to use mirroring which is similar to palindromes, like: "cattac", or "IloveyouuoyevolI"
  • Stay away from using any word that can be found in a dictionary
  • Also, try not to use only letters or only numbers in your password

You should also look through our list of Common Router Passwords and avoid using any passwords on that list.

Ways to Create a Strong Password

Create a long password with 14 to 20 characters. A password's length is one of the ways you can fight against brute force attacks. The longer your password is, the longer it takes a hacker to crack it. You want them to give up on trying to figure out your password. According to one password calculator, if you choose a password using only 10 alphabetical symbols it can take 19 minutes to crack, but if you use 20 alphabetical characters, it takes 5,262,374,000 years to crack. The length of your password makes a big difference.

Create an unpredictable password. Dictionary words are the first to be checked, so avoid using those in your password. If you need to use them, misspell them. Misspellings are an excellent way to foil an attack.

Create a password with variety. There are 96 different characters that can be created with your standard keyboard, use these to your advantage. Mix upper and lowercase letters, add numbers in the middle of the password, or create a smiley face. Make sure to use punctuation, numbers, letters, and symbols in your password.

Have fun while making up a password by modifying a common phrase, quote, or memorable moment. For example, take the phrase "I can resist everything except temptation." by Oscar Wilde. Now, take the first letter of each word and capitalize every other letter. So far we have IcReEt.Ow, which is only nine characters. It does have punctuation but no symbols. Let's add some symbols and misspellings. We can come up with [email protected]. You can also begin with a longer quotation such as "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." Abraham Lincoln. This could turn into a great password "It3iNtYiYlTc.ItLiYy!@l ".

If that seems too hard to remember, you can come up with a phrase that is longer but it might be easier to remember, such as "I always look both ways before crossing the street, but never ever use a crosswalk because I'm a rebel." This can be easily turned into a strong password like I@Lbwbct5bn3uacwb1ar!. Creating a password can be fun, go ahead and give it a try!

If you're not feeling creative, there are many password generators on the internet that give you a completely random lengthy password. However, a randomly generated password may not be as memorable as one you create on your own.