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How To Create a Strong Password

Ensure your Important information is safe, with a secure password

Published by Total AV Security Labs

With a new hacking scandal in the news every other week, everyone should be concerned about the security of their online accounts. Here are a few simple techniques for creating strong passwords; and remembering them.

Avoid using the following types of passwords, which a surprising number of people use: password, QWERTY, 123456, 00000 and Letmein. Also, don’t use information which can be guessed with minimal effort e.g. Azhar Bloggs would be advised against opting for a username of “Azhar” with “Bloggs” as his password. Similarly, try to avoid the name of your spouse, pets, children, birthdays and any other types of details that can be discovered from social networking sites or elsewhere.

Some experts even suggest that passwords should not include any other words of the English language or other place names. Instead, they always recommend that passwords should include upper and lower case numbers, letters, punctuation and least six or nine characters in total (the longer the better). Although such passwords are not too easy to remember if you use KeePass or another utility that stores your passwords securely, it really doesn’t matter.
However, for some sites you log into regularly, and would prefer not to have to load KeePass all the time, it does pay to pick something memorable.

It also pays to enable two-step authentication when available. This is a two-step login process so merely having a password is not enough. For example, a code may be sent to your mobile phone during a login session, and you need to enter the code (verification code) as the second step. It is not as convenient but it is much more secure. Microsoft, Twitter, Amazon, Evernote, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Steam, Yahoo, PayPal, Google, and others all offer two-step verification now, but you will need to manually enable this to your account settings.


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How to create a strong password?

It's very important to have a strong and powerful password. An awesome way of generating a strong password that is too hard to guess but still easy enough to remember is to devise a phrase that contains ordinary names, words of people or places (so they start with a capital letter) and also numbers. Your password is then generated by taking the first letters of each word except: for the numbers which are represented by their figures. So, if your phrase was “Bradford is thirty-two miles from Manchester” the password would be ‘Bi32mfM’.

Similarly, you can create a password by using a line from something that’s easy to remember, such as a song or nursery poems. It's easy to remember the first letter of each word of "Jack and Jill, went up the hill" and this can be made into a seven-character password JaJwuth. Again, using just names make the password easier to guess, so introduce upper-case characters and numbers.

You can also substitute characters for numbers, symbols or punctuation. You could replace any letter 'i's with ‘!’s and any 'a's with ‘4’s and your password would become much harder to crack. For example, if you were to choose Christmas, it becomes Chr!stm4s, which is a much stronger password.


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How to remember passwords?

Using a ‘password manager’ such as KeePass will help you to store and remember your passwords (making it more likely for you to choose a strong one), but unfortunately, it provides no protection from hackers. Using a password manager might not be as secure as you’d like to assume. Ross 
Hasman reports on that "1Password sends your password in clear text across the loopback interface if you use it with the browser extensions”. He later states that "I’m not saying don’t use 1Password and I’m not saying this is a massive security issue.”

If you need to remember multiple passwords, an easy way to avoid forgetting which website they are for is to use its name (or part of it) in your password. You can also do that by combining this with any of the techniques we have suggested to create a long and memorable password. Your Facebook password could be FaceM4tr!x, it is a combination of the website's name and your favourite movie, with some number and punctuation substitutions thrown in for good measure. It is a password which is almost impossible to guess and extremely hard to crack, yet easy to remember.