If you’ve recently been asked to choose a new password for a new or existing system, did you struggle? It’s surprising how many people have difficulty when choosing and remembering their passwords and it’s a problem that needs to be addresses.

Many people choose a password that they will remember easily. The problem is that this password will probably consist of a dictionary word, a person’s name or a common phrase. For years, hackers have been launching dictionary attacks on unsuspecting users and that means accounts with easy to crack passwords are fair game.

Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to protect your accounts with a robust password that is also easy to remember.

Basics of Password Selection

  • Use at least 8 characters if you can. If you make your password too long however, you may find it harder to remember.
  • Use a random mix of upper and lower case characters, numbers, spaces and symbols. Some systems will limit you to the use of some symbols or characters.
  • Always avoid a dictionary word. You can use a word from the dictionary however if you are going to pepper it with numbers or symbols, for example the word ‘Tuesday’ could be altered to Tu3sD@y to make a perfectly acceptable password.

What to Avoid

  • Don’t just add a single digit or symbol before or after a word. e.g. “rainbow1”
  • Don’t double up a single word. e.g. “rainbowrainbow”
  • Don’t simply reverse a word. e.g. “wobniar”
  • Don’t just remove the vowels. e.g. “rnbw”

Password Selection Tips

Choose a password that is easy to remember and that you don’t have to keep written down. This reduces the risk of somebody finding your password and compromising your security. If you are really struggling to remember it, download a password security application to your phone, enter your password and secure the application with a slightly easier password. The chances of this application becoming hacked are very remote and if you lose your phone, you can change your account password anyway.

Bad Passwords

  • Don’t use birthdays, names, your pet’s name, your wife’s name or the name of your children.
  • Don’t use passwords based on dictionary words especially those things around you such as keyboard, computer and so on. These can be cracked quicker than you could type them in.
  • Never use default passwords for any system, for example ‘admin’. These are widely publicised.
  • Never use a password that is the same as your username, email address or computer name.

Choosing a Password

  • There are many good password generators online and they are free.
  • Think of your favourite song and use the first letter each word from the first line from the song.
  • Choose two short dictionary words, but truncate them with a symbol, for example ‘apple$@oranges’ – you could easily remember this as apples and oranges based on the symbols used.

Password management can be a headache, but there are tools and services online to help you.