HOW-TO: Create A Strong Password

Following on from our series of Tips & Tricks – we always recommend you change your passwords regularly; but while changing them is good – using a strong password is key and changing your passwords regularly is the key. But what is a strong password I hear you ask ? Lets look at that and how to create one.

Firstly, before we start – We really suggest the use of a password manager to create and store your passwords and sensitive information. Please take a look at our advice on password managers to help with deciding on one. If you don’t have one or for some reason cannot or do not want to use one here are five very important pieces of advice:

  1. Your password should be at least 8 characters long
  2. Your password should include upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols
  3. Don’t use common phrases or personal details (such as birthdays, house / phone numbers or PIN codes etc)
  4. Don’t use the same password for different accounts
  5. YOU WILL HAVE TO REMEMBER IT

When people explaining how to make good passwords, they often try to throw in every single piece of advice and end up making it sound far more complicated than it actually is confusing people in the process. So lets stay calm and not get flustered !

The reason we recommend a password manager is because an excellent password is one that by co-incidence is pretty difficult for most humans to  remember. For example the password )//C)7?3p&=e@3 would be a very good password but probably not one you would easily remember. Having a strong password and then writing it down, pretty much defeats the objective ! There are many schools of thought when it comes to making the password – but we will stick to two options (if you want to dig deeper into the subject, head over to our technical section The Deep End for articles to really get your teeth into).

Use a Familiar But Uncommon Phrase

Use something that you remember well, but not a popular or common phrase. Maybe something your school teacher used to tell you on a daily basis (the good and the bad ones !). When you have your phrase – simply take the first letter from each of those words and remember the five pieces of advice from earlier.

So if we had the phrase: “You will never be an astronaut Peter Griffin !” we could have the password Ywnb3aAPG! Or maybe these examples might be more appropriate for you:

  • You are not going out dressed like that madame != YaNg0dltM!
  • What time do you call this, Boy ?! = Wtdyct,B0y?!
  • No, I will not friend you on Facebook. Idiot = N0iwnfuoFB.I

Use Multiple Random Words

Another option for creating a password that is not easy for someone else to guess, is to use several random words grouped together; again still recalling the five points from before. Using a few words will make the password will be longer than 8 characters, mixing the upper and lower case – including numbers within the words could be easy – then add a symbol at the start, middle or end and you are all set.

Some examples for you to look at are :

  • HORSE FACE EATS CABBAGE = %Horsefaceeatscabbage
  • UMBRELLA CAKE HOT SHOES = Umbrellacake&hotsh0es
  • WORK HOME BEACH BED = work$Homebeachb3d
  • HOUSE BUS COW DRINK = houseBuscowDrink!

After all of this hard work (and hopefully not recalling too many childhood mental scars !), we can see that it can be easy and even fun to create a strong password for an account. When you have many of these it can be tricky to remember them all, so password managers are a real bonus and are highly recommended. They keep your passwords safe and can allow you to make very complex / strong password without having to remember them off the top of your head. But however you choose to store and recall your passwords – remember to never use the same password for any of your accounts / services.

Happy Passwording, and remember… Let’s Stays Safe Out There !

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About the Author: Klaus Behz