How to create a secure password (and remember it)

How to create a secure password (and remember it)

We live in a digital age, where we have so many accounts that need protecting. That means a lot of passwords. Maybe you have the same password for all your accounts, if that’s the case, you need a change pronto. You should have different passwords so that if one account gets compromised, all the others should still be safe. It may seem like a hassle, but your cybersecurity is so important. Here’s how to create secure passwords and how to actually remember them. 

The most common passwords of 2020

A table showing the most common passwords of 2020

Firstly, let’s look at the most common passwords of 2020. If you’re thinking ‘password’ is surely not on that list? Think again! Out of 200 passwords that were exposed, ‘password’ came in at number four for most users. Taking the top spot was ‘123456’, unbelievably. Apparently, the time it takes to crack these poor passwords takes less than a second - which is no surprise.  

What makes a weak password?

As you can see, the weakest passwords are ones that are easily guessable. So, once you’ve established that ‘qwerty’, ‘abc’, ‘password’, and ‘1234’ are off limits, you can work on a much stronger one. But, what makes a strong password? You may think that your favourite dessert with a few numbers on the end is a great one, but that’s still weak. You should avoid using dictionary words, strings of adjacent keyboard combinations, number combinations and repeated characters, like ‘magnum123’ or ‘bbb’.   

What shouldn’t be in your password?

Do not use any personal details in your password whatsoever. No birth date, name, card details, or phone number. The last thing you want is a data breach and have hackers know your personal details as well as gaining access to your personal accounts. 

What makes a strong password?

It can’t be stressed enough that you should make all your passwords unique so that in case of a breach in one account, the rest should be safe. Follow these steps to create a stronger password:

  1. Make them longer - Many accounts will need a password with a minimum character set for this reason, to make them stronger. More than 12 characters is good
  2. Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters - Another way to make it harder for passwords to be cracked is by putting in a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters. Not just at the start, but in the middle too
  3. Add in symbols - Use symbols like ‘@’, ‘#’, ‘!’ and place them randomly throughout the password
  4. Add in numbers - Place numbers throughout the password and randomly, but avoid adjacent numbers, so like ‘492’ instead of ‘123’. Even better is to scatter the numbers between letters
  5. Use a password generator - Password generators are great tools to use, especially if you have hundreds of accounts to create random passwords for

You’ll see a running theme for a stronger password is randomness. The best way to make cracking passwords difficult is to be as random as possible. It’s just like trying to crack a code. If you’re putting words and common character combinations together, advanced password-hacking tools can easily run through these combinations. Random, long passwords that have symbols, lowercase and uppercase letters, and numbers all mixed together to form no readable words are much harder to crack, e.g. ‘F7Ty%rraed%7’, ‘BE#@VQ^Wp6u3’, ‘k$T2wxAHsq^X’ and ‘RFf5^&ETY1^k’. 

Managing and remembering your passwords

Passwords that don’t form words and have symbols, uppercase letters and random combinations are not easy to remember, especially when you have so many different ones. But, there is a way to manage this. There are password manager tools that allow you to store all your passwords in one safe place, like an encrypted vault. You can then use an autofill feature to log into your online accounts on the go. 

You could also create a document on Google Drive to organise your passwords, in case anything happens to your hard drive or you lose your device, and then use a tool like Drive Password to protect them by encrypting them before storing. Storing them online with an encrypted, secure tool means you can access them wherever you are. It’s also not a good idea to keep your passwords stored on a device in case it gets stolen, for thieves to then have all your account details as well as your device!

It’s also a good idea to update your passwords every few months just to add another layer of security to your online accounts. Remember, randomness is the key to a strong password. It may seem like a pain to do right now, but it’s essential for your cybersecurity, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

As well as keeping your digital space protected, make sure your physical space is too with our guide to workplace security. For any queries on how to improve your security, contact our friendly, knowledgeable team at Expert Security UK today.