A few words of thanks would be greatly appreciated.

How To Choose a Secure Password

In this digital age, we need passwords to access almost everything: our emails, our social network accounts, our messaging apps, our files stored in the Cloud, and even the platforms we use to pay our bills. It isn't an easy task to remember a different password for each service, which is why many people resort to selecting a simple password that they use everywhere.

While this is certainly the most hassle-free course of action, it is one of the best ways to invite hackers to steal your information. If someone, using the sophisticated hacking tools available today, is able to decode your password for one site, and you happen to use that password everywhere, you could even risk having your identity stolen.

It is also important to remember that, while using an easy-to-remember password may make your daily logins easier, it will also make a hacker's job easier when trying to figure it out. Additionally, password-saving software and browsers that save your passwords are prone to hacking themselves and are a very uncertain method of saving your passwords.

This FAQ will walk you through the best practices that you should consider when choosing a password that is secure and difficult to hack.

What Makes a Good Password?

A good password is a strong password. Experts recommend that all passwords meet a certain minimum criteria of lengthiness, variation, and complexity.

Minimum Password Length

Most programs that are concerned about your data security suggest, or even oblige, that you follow the expert recommendation of creating a password of more than 8 characters.

Password Variation

It is also strongly recommended that your passwords contain a mixture of several types of characters. This includes uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as letters, numbers, and symbols.

N.B. Some services restrict the types of characters that you may use in your passwords. This information is usually only available as a pop-up dialog box if you attempt to create a password that violates this policy on a website that has in implemented.

Many websites also recommend that, if you have forgotten your password and wish to recreate one, that you use a password that you have not used before, or at least for a very long time. A handful of websites even forbid you from doing just this.

How To Create a Strong Password

One way to select a strong password is by choosing a sentence that would be fairly easy for you and only you to remember. Next, take the first letter of each word and delete the others. For example, if you've chosen the sentence "The pen is mightier than the sword", your password will become Tpimtts.

Next, add several numbers and special characters to complicate the password. In this example, you could add a few of each, so that you are left with Tpimtts7%3.

Doing so will give you a lengthy and diversified password that is virtually impervious to hacking attempts.

Choosing a Different Password for Each Website

You should never use the same password on several websites. Using the method explained above, you can even create a password out of a phrase related to the website. This will help you to organize your passwords mentally so that you dont mix them up.

For example, on a photo sharing website, "I love my Canon EOS 300D" becomes IlmCE3.

Single Sign-In Solutions

There are also single sign-in solutions that exist. One very well-known one is OpenID. This service gives you the option to use a single set of login credentials to access all websites that allow OpenID login. (You can consult the complete list of such sites on the official OpenID website.)

Once you have created an account on one of these sites, you can login automatically on all other services that use the OpenID standard.

Image: © LynxVector - Shutterstock.com

A few words of thanks would be greatly appreciated.

Ask a question
CCM is a leading international tech website. Our content is written in collaboration with IT experts, under the direction of Jeff Pillou, founder of CCM.net. CCM reaches more than 50 million unique visitors per month and is available in 11 languages.
This document, titled « How To Choose a Secure Password », is available under the Creative Commons license. Any copy, reuse, or modification of the content should be sufficiently credited to CCM (ccm.net).