Are your passwords secure?

When it comes to using computers and the internet we are challenged to create a plethora of user names and passwords to protect our information.  But how do you make up a username and password that will be easy for you to remember but impossible for anyone else to figure out?  Here are some suggestions:

First of all, there are good passwords and bad passwords.  If someone wanted to “crack” your password using computer software they would probably start with lists of common passwords.  For the dedicated “password cracker” there are actually huge lists of common passwords available online.  Also, when you hear on the news that the accounts of the XYZ Company or the ABC Website have been hacked those passwords can end up on websites like this one where other hackers can access them. Here is a list of the most common passwords used today:

1. 123456
2. Password
3. 123456789
4. 12345678
5. 12345
6. 111111
7. 1234567
8. sunshine
9. qwerty
10. iloveyou
11. princess
12. admin
13. welcome
14. 666666
15. abc123
16. football
17. 123123
18. monkey
19. 654321
20. !@#$%^&*
21. charlie
22. aa23456
23. donald
24. password1
25. qwerty123

So what makes for a good password?  Here are some basic suggestions but in the end it will be up to you to come up with something that works for you: 

1. Avoid common names, dates, phone numbers or things easily associated with you.

2. Avoid common words or phrases as they would be the first thing checked by password cracking software.

3. Use a combination of numbers and letters.  For example, substitute numbers for letters and letters for numbers in a word or phrase.

4. Make it something you can remember all by yourself.  Don’t write it down anywhere!

5. Don’t use naturally occurring keyboard sequences (like “qwerty” for example)

6. Try to make it at least 8 – 16 characters long.  Obviously the longer the better.

7. Plan on changing your password often.  Experts suggest changing your passwords at least every 6 months. 

Whether it’s about protecting the money in your bank account or just restricting access to your email, you’ll need to have good usernames and passwords to protect yourself.  Choose wisely.

Christine Wells

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