A password is a string of characters used to verify the identity of a user during the authentication process. Passwords are typically used in conjuncture with a username; they are designed to be known only to the user and allow that user to gain access to a device, application or website.

Passwords can vary in length and can contain letters, numbers and special characters. Other terms that can be used interchangeably are passphrase for when the password uses more than one word, and passcode and passkey for when the password uses only numbers instead of a mix of characters, such as a personal identification number. Here’s a quick quiz. Do you know at least one of your passwords? Have you used that password for another login somewhere else? If you answered yes to both of these questions, your password strategy could use a serious audit. What makes a good password?

  • Long
  • Random
  • Unique

Every password you have is important. Every one. Here are three common problems with passwords:

Use Different Passwords Everywhere

Why would you do this when it’s so easy to just type “fido” at every password prompt? Here’s why: If “fido” gets cracked once, it means the person with that info now has access to all of your online accounts. A study by BitDefender showed that 75 percent of people use their e-mail password for Facebook, as well. If that’s also your Amazon or PayPal password and it’s discovered, say good-bye to some funds, if not friends.

Remember the Underwear Meme

The saying goes like this: Passwords are like underwear. You should change them often (okay, maybe not every day). Don’t share them. Don’t leave them out for others to see (no sticky notes!). Oh, and they should be sexy. Wait, sorry, I mean they should be mysterious. In other words, make your password a total mystery to others. You can make your password sexy if you really want, however. I won’t judge.

Avoid Common Passwords

If the word you use can be found in the dictionary, it’s not a strong password. If you use numbers or letters in the order they appear on the keyboard (“1234” or “qwerty”), it’s not a strong password. If it’s the name of your relatives, your kids, or your pet, favorite team, or city of your birth, guess what—it’s not a strong password. If it’s your birthday, anniversary, date of graduation, even your car license plate number, it’s not a strong password. It doesn’t matter if you follow this with another number. These are all things hackers would try first. They write programs to check these kinds of passwords first, in fact. Other terms to avoid: “god,” “money,” “love,” “monkey,” “letmein,” and for the love of all that’s techie, if you use “password” as your password, just sign off the Internet right now.

Using a Password Manager

If you know your passwords, they’re likely too weak. That’s why using a Password Manager to manage your passwords is the best way to keep all your account logins secure. With the help of a Password Manager, you can generate long, random, unique passwords, and securely store them with the help of a browser extension. So the only password you’ll have to remember is your master password to log into your password manager.
Password Managers: LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane

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