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How to create strong passwords

Today many of us depend on technology for all sorts of things, from banking to getting around, so knowing the basics of cyber security is crucial. To inspire you to get started, in this post we look at some of the basic things you can do to create strong passwords.

illustration of locks

111111
Letmein
Trustnoone

No, not a strange postmodern poem but three of the least secure passwords. Don’t worry if you’re guilty of using one of them, we’ve got you covered with these dos and don’ts to help you get your passwords in good shape.


DO

Go long

For a nice strong password you’ll need over 12 characters, now is not the time to be short and succinct.

Use the whole keyboard

That means using numbers, letters, punctuation, upper and lowercase – in fact just let your fingers roam free. This doesn’t mean batman1!!! Your choices should to be random. Time to do the typing tango.

Use a sentence to help you remember

The only problem with random choices is that they’re hard to remember. Before you know it you’ll end up locked out of everything with a stack of password reset emails in your inbox. The trick is to use a sentence to create your password. For example: FutureLearn is a great way to learn! I love learning becomes…FLiagr8w2l!ll. (If you really struggle with using different characters, there is another method using words which make absolutely no sense together – read more here)


DON’T

Use recognisable words

Don’t just pick a strange word from the dictionary and add some numbers to it. Kerfuffle62 might sound funny, but it’s not very secure.

Use simple substitutions

Don’t think swapping the letter O with zero, or Es with threes makes a strong password. These substitutions are obvious, so don’t rely on them. ‘Passw0rd’ isn’t much better than ‘Password’.

Write them down

Pieces of paper are easily lost or stolen. As are phones, so don’t store your passwords in your phone. The only place they should be stored is in your head. Or a password manager that lets you store all your passwords, and generate random ones, leaving you to just remember one master password.

Repeat them

Using the same password all over the web might be convenient but it’s also risky. If one website gets hacked or suffers a leak and someone gets hold of your password they can then use it to unlock all your other online accounts.


Want to know more about cyber security? Join the free online course Cyber Security: Safety at Home, Online, in Life.

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