Is your password strong enough?

By now, everyone knows that using a password like “Password” or “12345678” is pretty much a terrible idea. The password you choose is the first line of defense to keep troublemakers from breaking into your email, bank account or other secure information.

Having a poor password is almost as bad as leaving the front door unlocked. Most people will assume your door is locked and keep walking, but for the criminals who decide to check if it’s unlocked, they will be able to walk right inside.

Here are a few tricks you can use to upgrade your password.


Create a password that is safe, but is easy enough for you to remember. Having a password like “H8h@>jbgGG0-9u#V” seems like it would be a strong password, because it is. It has more than 10 characters, a mix of letters, numbers and symbols, but yet it would be nearly impossible for the average person to remember unless you have a photographic memory.

Try using a random phrase. We don’t recommend using your kid’s birthday, street address or anniversary as a password. Instead, choose a phrase that is memorable to you such as “my anniversary is April 16, 2009.” You can turn that into “M@i04/16/09!”

Choose a password with numbers, symbols, and upper and lower-case letters. Like the example from the previous tip, your password should be well mixed. Adding those layers to your password can make it harder to crack.

Use different passwords for different accounts. If you’re using the same password for Twitter, Yahoo and LinkedIn then you should consider changing all three of them RIGHT NOW. All three of those platforms have been the victim of hackers who have released the emails and passwords associated with accounts. If you use the same email and password combo for all of your accounts, that puts you at even greater risk.

If you must write down your password, don’t write the word “password” on your paper. That is a complete giveaway to anyone who sees it. This vulnerability can expose you to numerous problems that can be difficult to correct. Instead, try keeping the your password in a safe location or writing several other fake passwords to confuse others.

Beware of scammers and “phishing” schemes. The Internet is filled with scammers and phishers. Don’t take the bait. We even dedicated a whole blog to it.