10 Rules for Secure Passwords

Pretty much every online system requires you to have a password and with more and more online systems, that means more passwords.

The following are 10 top tips to make your password more secure:

  1. Use a different password for each site or application you use! (If hackers got one of your passwords they wouldn’t automatically be able to get access to other areas).
  2. Use passwords that cannot be found in a dictionary.
  3. Don’t use a word that has a personal connection to you and hence can be easily guessed. And don’t use any personal info or data like your birthday, wedding anniversary etc. either.
  4. Make the password as long as possible (Today’s digital processing speeds make cracking of short passwords a matter of seconds). 6 Characters is an absolute minimum but if you can make it over 15 characters you significantly reduce the risk of it being hacked by brute force.
  5. Use special characters and a mix of lower and uppercase letters to make your password stronger.
  6. Use where available a two-factor authentication process (logins from strange locations will trigger a text message to your phone – that too can be cracked – but it’s one more step for the hacker).
  7. Give silly bogus answers to security questions but keep them memorable. Otherwise things like your first car might easily be emulated and hence cracked as well. – Example of a bogus answer to first car: Camper Van Beethoven etc.
  8. If you stop using a system, close or delete your profile. Some sites offer opt-out mechanisms to have your data removed from their systems as soon as they’re no longer needed. Go for that!
  9. Use a unique and impersonal email address for your password recoveries and use it only for that purpose. (A line of attack for hackers could be a password recovery try if they can guess where it goes.) If you have a hard-to-guess unique email that is only used for password recoveries it will make it significantly harder.
  10. If you ever have to write down your passwords in order to remember it, don’t leave it as a post-it sticking to your monitor but put it away into a safe and hidden place. It would be better to use a service like http://www.passwordcard.org/en 

Other services like Passpack will let your store your passwords and have two-factor authentication with a long passphrase to access.

Although this won’t make your digital life totally secure these steps will definitely make it safer. Studies show that it’s never been easier to hack passwords so make sure you consider these rules as early as you can.

Further suggested reading and to validate your password strength: