We use passwords for pretty much everything—email, banking, credit card payments, online shopping, and more. Our passwords protect our personal information, which is why it's so important to keep them safe from hackers and data thieves. But what makes a good password?
Here at Asurion, we help you get the most out of your tech, whether you want to create more space on your phone, learn to set up cloud storage on your computer, or fix a PS4 that won't turn on. Here are our top tips for how to create a strong password and other ways to protect your personal information.
Use unique passwords
Reusing passwords is always a bad idea. If a hacker cracks your email, all they have to do is test that same password on your bank or credit card account to steal your information—and money.
They can also use your email address to reset other passwords. So be sure to use a different password for all your accounts, especially important ones like email and online banking.
Don't use personal information
To create a strong password, you'll want to avoid information that people in your life already know or could easily figure out by looking at your social media and online presence. This includes:
- Your name, nickname, and initials.
- Your birthday and the birth dates of family members.
- Your child's or children's names.
- Your pet's or pets' names.
- Your hometown.
- Your address, including the street name and house or apartment number.
Use a random combination of letters, numbers, and symbols
Another important step in how to make a password is incorporating upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. This ensures your password is complex. Replacing certain letters with symbols and sprinkling in a few upper-case letters will make it harder for thieves to crack your password.
Make your passwords long
Length is one of the most important parts of a strong password. You'll want to aim for at least 12 characters. An easy way to do this is to use a lyric from a childhood lullaby or a combination of uncommon words that you'll remember.
Avoid sequential numbers and common words
According to a 2019 Google/Harris Poll study, 24% of Americans use basic passwords like abc123, Password, and Ilove you. Another 59% use a name or birthday in an online password. Sequential numbers (12345), sequences (abcde and qwerty), and common words and phrases (letmein) are weak passwords that are prone to hacks.
Use a random password generator
Most password managers can also create strong, complex, extra-long passwords for you. Check out our guide on why you need a password manager and how to choose one.
Examples of strong passwords
Not sure what a good password looks like? We’ll give you an example of a password and how to vary it to make it stronger:
- Weak password: ILovePenguins
- Better password: !LovePenguins
- Strong password: !-L@v3-P3ngu!ns
Here are a few more strong password examples—just don't use them as your passwords. Always make up your own.
Examples of weak passwords
How to remember passwords: Use a password manager
Keeping track of passwords can be tricky. Avoid the temptation to store them in an unprotected file or app, in an email, or even on a piece of paper in your desk drawer—you'll only make it easier for someone to access your personal information.
Instead, use a password manager, which keeps track of all your passwords so you don't have to. The only password you'll have to remember is the one to the manager itself. Need help choosing the right one for you? Read our guide to the best password managers.
Other password security tips
Now that you understand how to make a good password, here are some final tips for adding an additional layer of protection to your personal info online.
Use multifactor authentication
Most email providers give you the option to set up two-factor authentication (also known as two-step authentication), which sends you a unique code on a specific device anytime you sign in to your account from an unknown device. Without that code, you can't sign in. So even if a hacker figures out your password, your personal information will be safe.
Use an authenticator app
An authenticator—like Google Authenticator™ (for iPhone® and Android™) or Authy—is an app you install on your phone that generates two-step verification codes, enabling you to sign into your accounts with an added layer of security. The codes change every 30 seconds.
Never share your password
It should go without saying, but never share your passwords with anyone else, including family, friends, colleagues, customer service, and IT personnel at your work. That defeats the whole purpose of protecting your online accounts.
Use hard security questions
Avoid security questions that someone can easily figure out, like the city you were born in, your birth date, where you went to school, and what street you live on. Here are some suggestions for good, hard-to-guess security questions:
- What is the name of your first friend?
- What is the name of your favorite childhood friend?
- What is the name of a college you applied to but didn't attend?
- Where did you go on your most memorable vacation?
- What was the first concert you ever attended?
Now that you've learned the basics of how to create a password that's secure, among other tips, check out our guide to how to secure your phone from hackers.