How strong are my passwords?

The average person now has 19 passwords. It’s understandable given nearly every account you have is password protected – from online banking, to Facebook, and email. Passwords are in place to protect your private details so everyone wants to make sure their password is strong and secure.

If you’re not sure whether your passwords are strong, or if you want some tips on choosing your next one, here are four handy tips:

  1. Use Different Passwords Everywhere

Passwords should be different everywhere you use them, but 75 percent of individuals use the same password for their social networking and email. This is not a great idea because if you are using the same password for all your online accounts and just one of them gets cracked, all your other accounts are at risk.

  1. Change them frequently

Simple as that. Most security sites recommend changing your passwords every few months. This is important because stolen passwords aren’t necessarily used immediately. So if you change them periodically you reduce the chances of being caught out.

  1. Make them mysterious – something someone wouldn’t easily guess.

The rule of thumb is usually: if it’s in the dictionary it’s not a strong password.  Other stereotypical passwords are names of relatives, pets, favorite teams, or city of your birth. Also, just using numbers doesn’t necessarily make your password stronger, especially if it’s your birthday, date of graduation, or your car license plate number. As this list of common tricks to guess someone’s password shows, these are the things hackers would try first.

But using a mixture of numbers and symbols does make your password stronger. How to Geek give some interesting insight into how to use numbers and symbols when generating passwords. Passwords are also case-sensitive to mixing up the capitals and lowercase increases the strength. Even better, don’t put the capitals first, just randomly throw them in. If you are struggling to think of a word not in the dictionary, try spelling a word backwards. Cyberstreetwise also recommends creating passwords out of three words or more, to make them longer and harder to crack.

  1. Don’t write them down!

Finally, if you want to keep your password safe, don’t leave them out for others to see! If you do have trouble remembering all your passwords, there are free ‘digital wallet’ services available like Dashlane which store them all securely for you.

If you have any more tips for creating a strong password, share them in the comments below.