Hackers, scammers, and identity attacks feel like an everyday occurrence in our modern world. No one is 100% immune to digital attacks. But one of the best defenses is strong passwords. And yes, that’s passwords – as in plural. You shouldn’t use one password for all your accounts across the web.

But what makes up a “strong” password? There are several factors, but here are a few of my favorite tips:

  1. Your password should be long. At least 8 or more characters.
  2. Use upper case, lower case, numbers, and punctuation. Try substituting the letter O for the number 0 or use @ instead of A to give your passwords some variety.
  3. If you use a word in your password, purposely misspell it. If the word isn’t in the dictionary, it’s harder for hacking software to find the password. For example, if you want to use Cantaloupe73 as a password, use c@ntaloopE73 instead (purposely misspelling “cantaloupe” and using the @ symbol in place of A)
  4. Create a seemingly random password out of a phrase. For example, “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain,” can become “triSfmotp” by using the first letter of each word in the phrase and capitalizing the “S.”
  5. Avoid common passwords at all costs. According to CNN, the most common passwords in 2020 are 123456, qwerty, password, and abc123. See a pattern here? Take your time and think of a good password, not just something quick!
  6. If you must write your passwords down in a book or on post-it notes, don’t keep the paper in an obvious location, such as under your keyboard or in your top desk drawer.
  7. You shouldn’t be asked to share your password with a company or over the phone. In some cases, you may need to share a password with your computer technician. If you do, once your repairs are done, change your password. Computer helpers (like me) don’t want to know your password once we are done helping. We won’t be offended if you change it. In fact, I’m always glad to hear my clients have changed their passwords for their own safety and security.

(A portion of this article was originally printed in the Adult Resource Alliance Senior News)

Copyright 2020 Miranda Gilbert, Girl Geek Communications – Do not reprint without permission