The Ultimate Guide to Secure Passwords

Have you ever tried to set up a username and password on a website, only to find that your proposed password just keeps getting rejected over and over again?

You need a symbol.

You need an upper and lowercase letter.

You need at least one number.

Maddening though it may be, these password criteria are pretty key in keeping your login information secure. A shocking number of people use passwords like ‘123456’ and ‘admin’, putting them at serious risk for having their information stolen.

Hey, I get it, it’s impossible to remember those stupid passwords. With the number of logins and online accounts most people have, it can seem impossible to use unique, secure passwords for every single one of them, and a lot of users get complacent. The truth is that login information gets stolen all the time, and as software for cracking these passwords improves, we need to be more diligent than ever before about protecting ourselves.

In this guide, I’ll lay out some of the best tips for making the strongest, most secure password you possibly can. Hey, I’ll even throw in some tips for remembering them all. Let’s jump right in.

Keep it Original

This one should go without saying, but it’s surprising how many people out there use the same password for everything. The bottom line is, information theft happens all the time, and it absolutely can happen to you. The problem with using the same password for everything is, once a hacker gets ahold of one, they have instant access to all of your accounts.

Even just varying a few numbers in a password isn’t enough. For the best security, make every password 100% original.

Pay Attention to Case

Most people have realized by this point that all passwords are case sensitive, meaning it matters whether you use upper and lower case letters. You can increase the security of your password really simply by using a random combination of upper and lowercase letters in it.

Though of course, this definitely makes your password more difficult to remember, it makes it exponentially more difficult to crack.

Throw in Some Symbols

Symbols are an awesome way to kick a password’s security up a notch. To get the most out of it, try to use more than one, and put them randomly within the text, not all on the end (and definitely not in the sequence they follow on your keyboard).

Don’t Make it Personal

One really common way that hackers get your password is actually just by rooting around in your personal life. They identify names or places that might be important to you, and then start trying to crack the code. While it may help you to remember a password, using a word or phrase with a personal connection to you can leave you pretty vulnerable. Try to use a totally random word or phrase instead.

Better Yet, Don’t Use Words

As we continue to narrow this down, the final step in really and truly creating a secure password is to try not to use actual words. I know, I know, could it get any more impossible? But seriously, random letters in passwords make them almost impossible to crack –and I’m not talking about asdf or abc – use something truly random, with zero significance.

Tools for Remembering Passwords

Okay, I know that after all of those secure password tips you’re probably sitting there like, “You’re kidding, right? How on earth am I supposed to remember those passwords?” It doesn’t do you a lot of good to have secure passwords if even you can’t figure them out, so here are some ideas for helping you out.

OneLogin

First of all, there’s an app for that. Apps like OneLogin are specifically designed to help with remembering all of those passwords, by having one app to manage them all. This one works by securing all of your passwords in one secure app with a master password, so that’s just one login you have to remember.

They even have a password generator for creating some incredibly strong passwords for you.  Of course, the downside here is that all of those logins are in one place – you have to count on the app being secure enough, and your master password being strong enough.

ExpressVPN

Another common mistake people make is entering their passwords in over public, unsecured Wi-Fi networks. This is where the majority of information theft happens, and it’s something that’s easily avoided.

VPNs are virtual private networks, and they’re a subscription service offered by a host company that you usually pay a low monthly fee to use (between $5 and $15 per month typically). Basically, you download the VPN software and select a server to connect to, which can be anywhere in the world. Your connection is then routed through an encrypted tunnel, and to that server, so that not only is your connection anonymous, but your information is completely secure.

From my research, ExpressVPN’s software is some of the easiest to use, and definitely has the best customer support you’ll find. They even have a 30-day money back guarantee, so if you’re not sure if it’s something you’re going to like, there’s no strings attached.

Let Your Computer Keep Track

Most browsers have features that ask the user if you’d like it to remember your login information. This is definitely a handy feature on sites that allow it, but be warned:  If someone gets ahold of your device, they instantly have all of your login information. While it certainly makes logging in faster and easier, it’s a huge security liability, and not something I would recommend.

Password security can be seriously tedious, I know. Trying to remember all of those login credentials, meeting all of the requirements to create a new password – it’s enough to make your brain hurt. But there are ways to create and remember secure passwords.

Make sure your connection is secure with a VPN, and use a password software like OneLogin to help you keep track of everything. At the very least, practice smart password creation habits, keeping them original, random, and secure with case variations and obscure number and symbol combinations.

Written by:  Chelsea Coronin of Securethoughts

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