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Safe and Sound

The Importance of Password Strength

Password Strength

Think of all the personal information you provide online every day.

  • Your credit card number when you shop online.
  • Your bank account PIN when you check on your savings account.
  • Your Social Security Number when you fill in your HR department’s benefits form.
  • Pictures of your kids on your Facebook page.

We work and play in a digital world, and it’s expected that we’ll send and keep sensitive info online regularly. That’s why strong passwords are important for all your online accounts and personal information. Plain and simple, they are your first line of defense against online hackers, phishing scams, spam and others hazards that unfortunately lurk throughout the Internet.

Guidelines for Creating Strong Passwords

To help you create stronger, more secure passwords, we recommend the following guidelines:

  • Make your password 8 to 24 characters long
  • Include at least one letter and one number
  • Include special characters (!@#$%^&*())
  • Passwords are case sensitive, so “SaMpLe4!” is different and stronger than “sample4!”
  • Passwords should not include any form of your User ID or the word “password”

Follow-Up Tips

In addition to the guidelines above, here is a list of tips to assist you in creating strong passwords:

  • To maximize the security a password can provide, change your password at least every 45 days. It’s easy to do and it’s free.
  • To help you remember the password, pick something that is meaningful to you but isn’t obvious to anyone else. For example,
    • Don’t use your name, your child’s name or your pet’s name
    • Do abbreviate the title of your favorite song or book
  • Avoid using correct spelling for words.
  • Be creative with numbers and symbols. Use phonetics to spell works unconventionally, such as spelling the word “before” as the letter “b” and the number “4.” Or use the symbol “*” for the word “star” or “snowflake.”
  • Try to memorize your password, but if you need to write it down, keep it somewhere safe. Don’t post your password any place where it can be seen.

Test Your Passwords

There are many password checker programs available online to help you test the security strength of your passwords. They are simple to use and immediately provide feedback. Here is the Microsoft Password Checker page.

Bring It!

As you can see, the creative spirit plays a big role in developing strong, secure passwords. So let your imagination loose, think outside the box, jot down your password possibilities – make sure to test them – and protect your information.

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