PC Security 101: What Makes for a Solid Password?

Your computer password is imperative as it is designed to protect your personal information. Ideally, a password would prevent anyone but yourself to access your sensitive information. However, some passwords are easier to crack than others, and your computer security could be compromised if you are using a week password. Here’s a look at what makes a solid password and how you can create your own.

Solid passwords: Good vs. bad

Surprisingly, it is not hard to distinguish a good computer password from a bad one. Bad security passwords are the ones that can be easily guessed by another person or computer, whereas good passwords are difficult for someone else to decipher.

How to Create a Solid Password

There are many factors that you can incorporate into your password to give you optimum computer security. Things to consider:

  • Use an algorithm. An algorithm is essentially a procedure that will create a unique and personal password. For instance, you can think of a sentence that is easy to remember, and use the first letter of each word as the password. Or, come up with a trivia question and use the first two letters of the phrase as the password. Ideally, you should use upper and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and punctuation. These variations work well as passwords as they are easy to remember by you, yet appear totally random to computers.
  • Use an image. Do you have a CD or a book on your desk that is always there, or a picture hanging on your wall? You can use that to create a password on its own or using the image in conjunction with the above suggested algorithm technique. Avoid using words or names that appear directly in the image. If you are very concerned about computer security, choose an image that you can lock away in a desk drawer or carry with you in your wallet to prevent someone else from seeing it and guessing your password.
  • Use intentional misspellings. You can use your favorite words, but try spelling them phonetically instead of using the proper spelling. Throwing in hyphens or other random punctuation in the world will also increase the computer security that it offers without making the password significantly difficult to remember.
  • Make it nonsensical. A solid password doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you. Feel free to use a silly phrase that you can remember. You can also use the shift key when typing numbers, or make up your own jargon that only you will remember.
  • Use a password program. Another available option is to use a password manager program to create a computer security password as needed. The program automatically creates good passwords for you, and you do not even have to remember what they are. However, your password to enter the program should be something that you create on your own and be as solid as possible to prevent someone from hacking in and stealing all of your passwords.

Keeping a Solid Password Secure

It is highly recommend that you utilize multiple methods when coming up with security passwords. If you choose to use an algorithm, for example, do not use one that can easily be deciphered. If you do, and one account is hacked, your entire computer’s security could be in jeopardy. In fact, it is highly suggested that you do not implement the same algorithm techniques for all passwords. Remember to mix it up to keep the hackers guessing.

Keep in mind that different systems may have different limits – not all systems will allow for an alpha-numeric password or your computer security may not allow symbols. Shorten it or adjust it as needed for your system.

Ideally, a solid password should factor in the following:

  • A minimum of 7 characters.
  • Will not contain your account name, your full name, or other words that are easily guessed.
  • Will have at least three of the following: uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbol characters.

Once you have chosen a solid security password, make sure to protect it. Never write passwords down. Instead, write down a clue that will jog your memory. Keep all clues and other login information in a secure place at all times, and never give out your password information to anyone else. A solid password is only as secure as how you treat it – if you write it down on a post-it stuck to your computer, then it is easy for someone to come along and steal it, no matter how complicated it is.

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