Choosing a good password and keeping it safe

Choosing a password

Looking to create a new account either on your computer or internet? One of the first things you'll need to do is select a password, and if care isn't taken in doing this, it can result in breaches of security later on down the line. It's good to think about secure passwords in advance of moments when you need to come up with them, so you can quickly pick a password you already know is secure.

Some points to remember when choosing a good password:

  1. Choose something with at least eight characters. If you have a password that can be any length within a given range, consider making your password as long as possible to create the maximum number of permutations.
  2. Do not use your name, birthday, age, maiden name, pet's name, or any other personal detail as the basis for your password, even if you modify it slightly.
  3. Pick something that you can remember. This avoid you needing to write your password down.
  4. Don't choose a word that can be found in a dictionary, and don't modify real words to create your password, either.

Finding a combination of letters and numbers that are easy to remember but hard to guess is hard, but not impossible. Think of a favorite few lines of poetry, or a common phrase that you can keep in mind easily. Then use the first letter of every word to create a password that doesn't appear in dictionaries and isn't related to your personal information.

You can also go online and look for "random password generators," which produce a randomly generated string of letters and numbers. To use this method, simply pick a string that looks easy to remember, then develop a phrase or saying as a handy reminder.

If you can use punctuation in your passwords, consider substituting punctuation for another word and linking words in this way. This way, a password consists of one short word, a punctuation mark, then another short word, which is a more difficult combination to pick at random.

You can also base your password on a license-plate style way of spelling words, which can yield some pretty funny results! Some others choose to misspell common words when putting them into their password, since a misspelling only one person realizes is there will mean that computers would not find the password if searching with a list from a dictionary.

Keeping your password safe

Keeping your login information - especially your password - safe is a critical step every computer user must take to ensure their data remains secure. Many people, however, have problems recalling all their passwords. By taking careful steps, you can ensure that you remember your password while at the same time maintaining its secret.

Some points to remember when keeping your password safe:

  1. Don't tell other people your password. It seems like an obvious warning, but often times people think it's OK to give friends or relatives passwords to their accounts when that person is in need. It might be nice to share, but in this case, type the password in for the other person once instead of giving them the ability to use your account whenever they want.
  2. If you write your passwords down (which should be avoided if at all possible) take care not to leave the paper where they are written in plain sight or anywhere it might be easily discovered. It's also a good idea to scramble the passwords if you write them down - make up a code that only you know the key to!
  3. Never send your password to someone else via email, and never reply to any password from any company or individual who requests your password. Do not click links or dial phone numbers you are given in unanticipated emails, as these can be part of intricate "phishing" schemes. If you reveal your password in these scams, the results can include your personal data being accessed by online criminals.
  4. Never enter your password at a public computer, for any account. You do not have control over what happens to that information once you have left the computer, and using public internet cafe computers, library computers, and other computers that are not personally owned to check sensitive information is never a good idea. You also have no idea if a keyboard monitoring device may have been installed on the machine, so be careful what you type and what websites you visit.
  5. Don't use the same password(s) for all your accounts. Once you've come up with ideas for passwords which fit high security parameters, you'll see that doing this is easy and worthwhile. Use your new knowledge about passwords to come up with other secure passwords for your other accounts!

Keeping your passwords secret is a critical part of maintaining your security online and keeping your data protected.

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