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No one wants to be hacked – but if you use a simple password, you’re practically opening the door to your online life and inviting a hacker in.
Did you know about 70% of the world's most popular passwords can be cracked in less than a second? Yikes!
It’s time to trade in your weak passwords for stronger ones that will actually protect you.
Who doesn’t like being popular? But when it comes to passwords, popularity is dangerous. Every year, companies like NordPass evaluate millions of leaked passwords to reveal the most popular – and worst – ones.
Alarmingly, the list doesn’t change much from year to year, meaning plenty of people are still using these bad passwords. In fact, recent research found that 1 out of every 142 passwords is 123456. Talk about making it easy for a hacker.
If you see any of your current passwords on this list, change them right away.
So you need to improve your passwords – but how? What makes a strong password? First, some tips:
With the above points in mind, it’s time to create your password. Here are 3 techniques that can help.
Think of a sentence that has meaning for you. It could be a line from a favorite book or poem. Maybe it’s a saying from your family. You could even use a song lyric.
Once you’ve selected your sentence, use shortcuts, abbreviations, and acronyms to condense it into a single password.
A passphrase is a string of multiple words one after the other. This is a simple way to create a long password. Plus, a passphrase is easier to remember than a bunch of upper- and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers.
Imagine a scene that includes 4-6 unrelated words – perhaps “seedchipmunksquirrelbirdpole.” Whenever you need to remember your passphrase, just picture the image in your mind.
For this technique, you need a place, a person, an action, and an object. Start by choosing an interesting place (Yellowstone). Next, select a familiar or famous person (Mozart). Then imagine a random action and random object (Mozart riding a zebra at Yellowstone). The weirder, the better. Our brains are better at remembering outlandish, unusual scenarios.
Take the first 3 letters from “riding” and “zebra” to create “ridzeb.” Repeat these same steps for three more stories. Finally, combine your made-up words together, and you'll have an 18-character password that'll be familiar to you but seem completely random to other people.
Now you have a collection of long, strong passwords – but don’t stop there. It’s easy to do even more to protect your accounts.
Enable 2-factor authentication. It verifies that it’s really you logging in to your account. For example, you have to enter a code that was texted to you before your login is completed. It only takes a few extra seconds – a small price to pay considering 2FA can stop an unauthorized login even if a hacker is using your correct password.
Use a password manager. These free tools encrypt and store all of your passwords. Then they automatically insert your password when you log in to an account. Some managers even include a random password generator that creates hard-to-crack passwords with the click of a mouse. Popular password managers include LastPass, 1Password, and Dashlane.