Using short, simple passwords or the same password for all of your online accounts puts you at a higher risk of a security breach or identity theft. To increase your protection, we suggests using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
Some sites have their own specific character requirements. Here are some tips to help you create a password that’s less likely to be hacked.
Use a Variation of Characters
- Use at least one uppercase letter
- Use at least one lowercase letter
- Use a number
- Use a symbol from this set: ! @ $ % %5E & * ( ) – _ = + [ ] ; : ‘ ” , < .> / ?
- Use at least six characters
- Don’t use repeating characters
- Don’t use spaces
Don’t Make it Easy to Guess
- Don’t use a common, dictionary word—not even spelled backwards
- Don’t use your name, a relative’s name, a close friend’s name, or a pet’s name
- Don’t use personal numbers, including your driver’s license, license plate, social security, phone number, or birthday
- Do change your passwords monthly; if you need to write them down, put them in a safe place and don’t include the URL
- Do use a password that’s at least 8 characters long
Use a Personal Algorithm
Many people use the same password for all of their accounts, which can be a problem. If your e-mail gets hacked, the criminal may also gain access to your bank account if it uses the same password. Creating a personal password algorithm is a great way to have different passwords for different sites that will be easy to remember. An algorithm is a set of rules that can be applied the same way to different sites, and will result in a different password for each. For example, your algorithm could start with your dog’s name using a special character (rex=r#x). Then, you could add the second and third letters of the website name in capital letters, and your favorite number (13). If you were creating a password for Paypal using this algorithm, your password would be r#xAY13. Using the same set of rules, your password for Google would be r#xOO13.
Using a personal algorithm lets you create strong passwords without having to memorize a lot of different complicated passwords. Once you have your personal algorithm, you can use it to remember what your passwords are for different sites and accounts.
Use a Password Manager
Finally, the easiest way to keep your password safe is use a password manager such as LastPass.After testing several cloud-based password managers, LastPass emerged as the top choice. It offers an intuitive interface for both computers and mobile devices, support for all major browsers and operating systems, optional two-factor authentication, storage of personal details and ID cards, and a dizzying array of installation options.
With a well-stocked free version, an affordable premium subscription and a host of useful extra features, LastPass was the most appealing option for password managers that we reviewed. You can store website login information, Wi-Fi passwords, and credit-card and address information, and the data will automatically sync among as many devices as you choose.
LastPass may not be the fanciest password manager — it doesn’t have True Key’s facial recognition, or Dashlane’s ability to change hundreds of passwords at once — but it offers all the right features and executes them well. With convenient password-sharing abilities, unlimited password storage, granular settings options and seamless multi-device abilities, LastPass is a password manager that won’t disappoint.