As our business and personal lives become increasingly digitized, we are storing more valuable information online. Information like access to bank accounts, health history, Social Security data and credit card information is stored behind passwords—simple letter and number combinations that serve as the modern world’s equivalent of the lock and key.
Unlike keys, however, passwords can be replicated with ease. With one lucky guess, your sensitive information can be compromised and misappropriated—the results of such a breach can be ruinous for your business and personal finances.
Fortunately, building a secure password that you can remember isn’t as hard as you think. Try our five tricks to develop—and remember—a failsafe password:
1. Don’t Get Personal
Avoid creating a password that is directly related to your job or personal life. Cross off your license plate number, spouse or child’s name, fragments of your address or your favorite pet—hackers can easily track down this information.
2. Give More than One-Word Answers
As tempting (and easy to remember) as they are, single words found in the dictionary are not secure. Passwords composed entirely of proper names, places, technical terms and slang should not be chosen unless you can complicate them with numbers or symbols.
3. Go Long
Choose a password that is at least eight characters in length—a 14-character password is even more secure—and a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Change your password every 90 days to keep it secure.
4. Complete Sentences
Some of the most secure passwords are the easiest to remember. Try sentences like, I was born in the month of March! (34 characters, very secure) or My business is #1! (18 characters, very secure). The combination of spaces, upper- and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers are difficult to guess, but the sentence can help you remember your password.
5. Browsers Are Not Memory Devices
Never, ever allow your browser to auto-fill your password. Similarly, remember that hiding your passwords under your keyboard is like hiding your house key under the doormat. Avoid storing your passwords in written, unencrypted form at all costs.