Your Password Sucks. Here's How To Make It Better.

Your Password Sucks. Here's How To Make It Better.

Eric Chen
Nov 22, 2011

Although hacking has become so prevalent that sometimes no matter what we do, it is impossible to protect against all threats on the internet. However, taking the basic steps to strengthen your password can go a long way. Software firm, SplashData recently published a list of 25 worst passwords, and just as you may have suspected, common choices such as "password" or "123456" are all near the top of the list. Although you may not make the rookie mistake of picking one of the top five, we have a few handy tips on how you can strengthen your password and make sure hackers don't waltz away with your information.

Avoid common references. Passwords are used to protect very personal information, so your password should be very personal to you. Perusing the list, there are many passwords that uses sports, "football" or "baseball" and cultural icons, such as "superman." Common references allows anonymous hackers to guess your password more easily.

Avoid prominent personal references. Hackers aren't always obscure, anonymous third party figures that lurk in the shadows. Sometimes it is the people around you that could hack your account, for this reason, we suggest not using personal references that are significant. Avoid using the names of the significant people around you, such as your wife's name or your children's date of birth. Stick to obscure references that are dated and less important to others but easy to remember for you. Try using the name of a childhood dog, or the date of birth of your first girl/boyfriend.

Spice up the alphanumerical combination. Most secure websites today require users to use both alphabets as well as numbers to make their password more secure. However, most people use the combinations of alphabet+numbers, such as "xxx123" but changing up the combination of the two could make your password significantly stronger. For example, "xx23xx" combination would be much harder to guess.

Vary your password between sites. Highly secured websites such as online banking are rarely hacked, but oftentimes, it is through less secure sites such as forums or discussion boards that hackers obtain your username and password. While it may be easier for you to have a unified username and password, it makes it easier for the hackers as well. Varying your username and passwords between sites will prevent your more sensitive information from being accessed even when your less important accounts are hacked.

Use rules to develop unique logins for each account. Having unique logins can significantly strengthen your account security, but having to remember different usernames and passwords can be a daunting challenge, especially with a plethora of online accounts needed today. Although when using your own computer, it is helpful to have a password manager software, you could be left stranded when you are using a different computer. By having set rule for setting username and password can be useful. We use a combination of a set phrase in conjunction with variation that is determined by rules, for example the number of letters in the name of the website or the first word that is on the bottom of the homepage. This will assure your username and passwords are unique and can be easily remembered.

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