When did you last change your password?

Asking around my friends, there are some obvious passwords:

  • Your child's, pet's or partner's name
  • Digits from telephone numbers
  • Numeric sequences, such as 123456
  • The football team you support
  • Date of birth
  • Your PIN number!

If your passwords fall into any of these categories, do something about it immediately. We are becoming a little blasé about our digital footprints on the web, and I bet it wouldn’t be that hard to discover some, or all of this information.

Hacking is no longer the preserve of a few social incompetents in their bedrooms. It’s organised crime – so having your passwords discovered could have serious consequences.

Here are a some tips for thinking up safe passwords:

Use safe words

If you find it hard to remember passwords, try adopting the safe word technique. First, choose a password that’s a mixture of numbers and letters. Make sure it’s something you can remember, and completely unique to you. Then, prefix or append some information to it for each website you use.

Here’s an example. Your safe word could be ‘lawnmower’. Better still, make it ‘L4wnM0w3r’. When you register for a particular service, add something that identifies that service.

For instance, when registering for Apple iTunes, you might use something that identifies the password as being related to music. Your password could become ‘Mu51cL4wnM0w3r’. It may sound complex, but once you get used to typing your safe word everything becomes easier and more secure.

Use a password generator

There are thousands of password generators out there, just like this one. While they’re great at what they do, it can be a pain to remember individual strings of numbers and letters.

However a tool like LastPass can make life a lot easer. It generates, remembers and stores your passwords for individual websites, and works even if you use different web browsers (like Firefox and Internet Explorer) on more than one computer.

If you are happy to have your passwords stored somewhere, it’s a great option.

How do you create and remember your strong passwords? Leave a comment and let us know.

Ben Dyer is the Director of product development at Sellerdeck. Originally published at IT Donut Blog.

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