How to Create and Keep Strong Passwords
After all, with just a few keystrokes, a scammer can have full access to your personal information, financial accounts, social media pages and so much more. But creating those perfect passwords – and remembering them – can be difficult. We’ve outlined 6 steps for creating and keeping super-strong passwords that will keep scammers guessing.
Step #1: Choose a password manager
With so much of our lives accessible online, it’s more important than ever to keep passwords secure. One way to do this is to use a password manager. These services will generate strong passwords for all of your financial accounts, favorite websites and social media platforms and keep them safely encrypted. You will only need to create and memorize one master password, which you will use when logging into all of your accounts. There are lots of password managers on the market, but the ones that come most highly recommended are Lastpass and Keepass. You’ll want to note that LastPass is online-based while KeePass is offline-based, so there are advantages and disadvantages to using both.
Step #2: Create an unbreakable master password
Once you’ve chosen your password manager, create a strong master password. This code can open up every password of yours to potential scammers, so be extra careful about choosing one that is super-secure and virtually unbreakable. Follow the rules below and you’ll have a strong password.
- Make it long. Many sites require a password that is a minimum of 8 characters long, but a 12-character password is even stronger.
- Be creative. Avoid using names, places and recognizable words because these are easily cracked.
- Mix it up. The best way to keep your password unbreakable is to mix up your capitalization and the kinds of characters you use, switching back and forth from letters to numbers to symbols.
- WOO!TAwonTWS = Woohoo! The Astros won the World Series!
- D:’(OspldMlk.JdreenqOJ = Don’t cry over spilled milk. Just drink orange juice
- 1tubuupshrtsin2Mpnts = I tuck button-up shirts into my pants.
Step #3: Update all your passwords
Next, you’re going to sync all the websites and accounts you use with your password manager. Follow the guidelines on your password manager for this step, as they differ with each service. When you’re through, you’ll only be able to log into these sites by using your master password.
Step #4: Use two-factor authentication
Add another layer of protection by choosing two-factor authentication whenever you have that option.
Step #5: Be careful with security questions
Ironically, security questions are extremely insecure. Anyone can Google your dog’s name or your mother’s hometown. And, if all a scammer has to do to retrieve your password with the “I forgot my password” tab is answer a security question, the strongest passwords in the world won’t do you any good. Protect yourself by treating security questions like passwords. Never answer them truthfully. Instead, make up mnemonics or nonsensical answers that are hard to crack but easy for you to remember.
Step #6: Don’t let your browser or phone “remember” your passwords
Don’t be lazy; keep your passwords in your head and not on your devices. Otherwise, you’ll be in deep trouble if your computer or phone is swiped. Keep your passwords strong and safe. You don’t want to be an easy target for scammers!
Your Turn: What’s your best tip for creating a super-strong password? Share it with us in the comments.
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