Ideally a secure password is one which no one else can guess and which is resistant to being hacked, that is, having one's online information breached, and thus leading to the danger of having one's identity, credit card information and/or money stolen. In order to make your passwords less susceptible to compromise, you should seek to create passwords that use six or more characters with a mix of letters and numbers and upper-case and lower-case letters to create the strongest password possible. You should also create a new password for each site on which you engage in online commerce - and never share these passwords with anyone.
Since users are being asked more and more to think of unique user names and/or passwords, many are resorting to less than creative solutions. For example, many users will choose easy to remember passwords (such as admin, 12345, their own first name or year of birth or even the word "password") to make this process more manageable. Unfortunately, these solutions are risky as they make one much more susceptible to being intercepted by a computer hacker. Avoid the use of obvious passwords such as your birthday, nickname, mother's maiden name, phone number or the name of your pet.
Many Internet service providers now offer guidance on strategies to select a password which is less likely to be hacked. These strategies include:
- Choose a long password (12 or more characters) rather than a short one
- Instead of a single word, use a combination of upper case and lower case letters, numbers and/or symbols
- Use a phrase for a password such as "mydogsnameisfluffy."
- Create a password which is actually an acronym for a phrase that only you would know, such as: "My favorite food is the Chicago style pizza they have at 19 Main Street" becomes the password: MffitCspth@19MS.
- Take advantage of free password selecting software (such as www.goodpassword.com) easily located via any Internet search engine.
Some websites provide the user with an option to allow the computer to remember usernames and/or passwords. Although this is a convenient feature, in general, it is more prudent not to rely on these options. It is recommended to increase your password security by using the "Delete stored passwords" feature (typically found under "tools" and then "Internet options") available through most Internet browsers.