February 14, 2020
How protected are your passwords? Find 5 simple tips to help keep your data secure.
One of the easiest ways to remember a strong password is by using your favorite phrase, quote or lyric. For example, let’s take the song “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. The lyrics to the chorus are: “Sweet Caroline / good times never seemed so good / I’d be inclined / to believe they never would.” To transform this into a password, combine the first letter of each word and include all commas. In this case, it would be “Sc,gtnssgibitbtnw.” While this is a strong password on its own, you will most likely need to add special characters and numbers to satisfy the password requirements.
2. Create a Passphrase
A password and a passphrase are not one and the same. Passwords usually involve one noun — be it the name of your pet, your hometown or your favorite sports team. Using only one word makes it even easier for hackers to figure out your login credentials. That’s where a passphrase can help. Let’s say your original password was “Foodie123.” You can turn this into a passphrase by elaborating to make it “IamAFoodieWhoLovesPasta123.” The more words you include, the longer the password will become and the harder it will be for someone else to figure it out.
3. Use the PAO Method
The person-objection-action (PAO) method is a formula designed to help you craft a secure password. All three words should be random and in no way related. For example, you could choose: Adele, shampoo and jump to create “Adeleshampoojump.” The separation of these three words makes your password that much harder for someone else to crack. One of the best benefits of a predetermined formula is that you can follow the same guidelines when it comes time to update your password, making it even easier for you to remember. That said, since your password will be a collection of random words, be sure to write it down somewhere in case you happen to forget.
4. Create Your Own Formula
If the PAO method doesn’t work for you, consider creating your own formula. For example: [dream vacation destination] + [an animal] + [your favorite decade] + [a fruit]. In turn, this could become “ParisKoala2020Pineapple” — or whatever comes to mind. You could also create a formula for passcodes. Let’s say you’re prompted to update your password right before Super Bowl Sunday. Perhaps your formula could involve making predictions based on upcoming events. For example: ThePatriotsWillWinthe2021Superbowl. Whichever formula you choose, always remember to include a mix of upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers and special characters. A part of your formula could be to turn every “t” into “7” or every “h” into “#.” In this case, your password could be “7#ePa7rio7sWillWin7#e2021Superbowl.”
5. Add More to the End of Your Password
If your password isn’t long enough, choose two letters that are next to each other on the keyboard and alternate between them. For example, if your password is “Paris2020!”, you can add “sdsdsd” to the end of it. According to security researcher Steve Gibson, adding this “padding” to your password will not only help you reach length requirements, but will also make it that much harder for someone else to figure out your login credentials. This strategy also helps you avoid using exclamation points or dates — like 2020 — which are easy to guess.
Whether you leverage the name of your favorite tune or your most loved dessert, find out how you can strike the right balance between a password that’s simple enough to remember but strong enough to keep your data protected. For more information about protecting your wifi, visit our guide on how to secure your home wifi network.