Simple passwords put your online security--and all your information--at risk, but you may be surprised by how many people have easy-to-crack passwords.
A recent study of 10,000 Hotmail, MSN and Live.com passwords that were exposed online found that "123456" was the most commonly used password. That no-brainer appeared 64 times.
Forty-two percent of the passwords used lowercase letters from a to z; only 6 percent mixed alpha-numeric and other characters, according to the analysis published in "Wired" Magazine.
Luckily, there are a few simple rules you can follow to create smart passwords that are hard to crack to protect yourself on the World Wide Web.
Things You'll Need
- A little imagination
Know what not to do. The easiest-to-crack passwords are too few digits, all lowercase letters, all numbers in an easy-to-guess pattern, or a name, according to "Wired."
Choose a password with at least eight characters to be secure. The characters should be a mix of numbers and lowercase and uppercase letters.
Don't use names or numbers that are easily identified with you. No names of your children, dog, street address, phone number, birthdate or other personally connected words.
Use techniques that create passwords which appear to be nonsense. Take a sentence that you can remember. It should contain some numbers. Some of the words in the sentence should be capitalized. Here's an example sentence: By age 5 Megan could type 48 words per minute. As a password, that sentence would be: Ba5Mct48wpm.
An example from Microsoft offered the sentence "My son Aiden is three years old." As a password that could read "MsAi3yo". Or, for even more complexity, use symbols to replace letters. With symbols substituted for some of the letters, you might end up with "M$8ni3y0."
Choose a phrase for an effective password. For example: prairie dogs. If some of the letters in the phrase were capitalized, it would be even better. For example: praiRie doGs. If numbers were used to replace some of the letters in the phrase it would be better yet. If a=4 and o=0, then the password would be: pr4iRie d0Gs.
Tips & Warnings
- If you've been using easy-to-crack passwords, take the time to go to your online accounts and change your passwords to more secure ones.
- Take advantage of Microsoft password checker to test your new passwords to make sure they will be hard to crack.
- Keep your passwords secret.
- Do not give a password that will be hard to remember.
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