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Password Strategies

There's no such thing as an impregnable password. Still, putting personal information behind a basic password is like leaving your car in a busy parking lot with your keys on the dash. By taking preventative measures to strengthen your password, you may be able to help safeguard your sensitive personal data and your privacy.

SplashData released the 25 most common passwords from 2018, here are the top 10:

  1. 123456

  2. password

  3. 123456789

  4. 12345678

  5. 12345

  6. 111111

  7. 1234567

  8. sunshine

  9. qwerty

  10. iloveyou

If any of those look familiar, then please read on for some suggestions on password management.

No Plain English

Simple strings of numbers, along with passwords that can be found in the dictionary, are the easiest to crack. Google suggests that your password should contain one or more upper- and lower-case characters, numbers, symbols and special characters.

Mix It Up

Many people use the same password for multiple accounts because it's easier to remember. But this could lead to serious consequences. You may not be too concerned about the personal information stored in your LinkedIn or Twitter accounts, but what would happen if hackers used your compromised password to access your e-mail, brokerage, or bank accounts? One IT specialist suggested using the same root password with a application-specific suffix—e.g. S3cr3tnf!9 and S3cr3tfb!9 where S3cr3t (Secret) is the root and then nf!9 and fb!9 are the suffixes for Netflix and Facebook in 2019 respectively.

Length Over Complexity

Longer passwords are more difficult to crack. Around 20 characters is recommended. Consider stringing together the first couple letters of a favorite movie quote, song lyric, or poem.

You can use a Frankenword or Frankenphrase where you use random words and numbers strung together to create a new word or phrase. Personally, I think a Frankenphrase that includes easily rememberd words is a good option. E.g. applesdogsdrinkford.

Length and Complexity is Better

The longer your password, the more difficult it will be to crack. Instead of a password, consider using a favorite movie quote, song lyric, or poem. To make your password even stronger, string together only the first couple letters of each word in the phrase.

Change Frequently

For extra-sensitive accounts, it may make sense to change your passwords on a regular basis. If you like the idea of optimal password protection but worry you won't be able to handle multiple changing passwords, password managers like LastPass can help you organize, store, and use multiple passwords safely. Password managers often have a password generator you can use to conveniently create and save a unique password.

Secure Your List

We all have dozens and dozens of passwords, and it can be very difficult to keep track of them all. To avoid having to click the Reset Password button every time you want to check FaceBook from a new device, it is tempting to write your passwords down.

Password managers like LastPass also help you avoid having to write them all down. Then you only need to remember one password. If you still want to write them down, please consider keeping a hardcopy of your list in a safe or somewhere else not easily located. If you save a soft copy on your computer, at least consider using a file name that will not attract attention like mileagelog.xls.

If you have trouble remembering multiple passwords, you may want to keep a list, but don't store it on your desktop or in your inbox. Give the file a misleading name and bury it where only you can find it.

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