How to Choose a Secure Password for Your Online Accounts

Last Updated: February 3, 2021

The average person has personal information on their online accounts that they’d like to keep safe. Some of the details in these accounts are so sensitive that you could potentially lose a lot if they fall into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, this is also the reason hackers and cybercriminals would want to go after them. How then can you make sure your data is secured? The answer is through securing your accounts with powerful passwords.

An ideal password should be impenetrable, able to withstand brute force attacks. Sadly, most people do not know how to create passwords with this level of strength. Even more so, it is often easy to forget these passwords when you are done creating them.

In this article, you will learn how to create reliable passwords. Additionally, we will show you the tricks to always remember the passwords whenever you need them.

Why You Need a Secure Password for Your Online Accounts

Generally, you need a secure password to protect yourself from the attacks of cybercriminals. These individuals evolve different strategies to gain access to the accounts of persons and tamper with their data. Some of the various forms of attacks are discussed below.

Brute Force Attacks

Here, the hacker tries as many combinations as possible to breach your account. Typically, such a hacker could design software that is optimized for this very purpose. These apps check millions of combinations in the shortest possible time. They begin with basic information about you such as your birth date, year of marriage, spouse’s birthday, etc. (This invariably tells you that you should avoid these when creating your password. More on that later.)

Furthermore, it would take the software less time to decrypt a password under eight characters. In effect, the longer the password, the harder it will be for the software to crack.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are designed to trick you into giving up sensitive information. Hackers who carry out this sort of attack rely heavily on social engineering to get their plans to work. They study their victims over a lengthy period. Afterward, they design attacks specifically for the person, relying on the perks and peculiarities the victim usually relies on.

For instance, you may receive a phishing email telling you that something is wrong with your credit card. You could find a link directing you to a site to correct the mistake. If you follow the link, you will discover a phony website resembling that of a legitimate credit card company. However, once you input your credit card details, they would be picked up. The hacker on the other end could then use it for whatever purpose that they fancy.

Dictionary Attack

This is a variation of the Brute Force attack. Here, instead of trying out a combination of numbers, the software uses strings of prearranged words. The software basically runs through the dictionary, trying out every possible word combination to fish out which is yours. Thus, to make sure that you are safe in this sort of situation, you should make sure that the combination is rare. Common words or phrases make you vulnerable.

In any of the attacks discussed above, the hacker looks to test the strength of your password. The only way you can escape unscathed is if your password can outsmart the hacker (and their software). In the next section, we will discuss the ways to create foolproof passwords.

Ways of Choosing a Secure Password

There are several strategies you could implement when creating an impenetrable password. We would be discussing them in conjunction with methods employed by some security experts. Here goes:

1. Use Bruce Scheier’s Method

This method of creating passwords is named after its creator, Bruce Scheier. He evolved this strategy as far back as 2008, and it is still applicable today. This only goes to show how reliable the method is.

In the Scheier method, you essentially create passwords using sentences. You can pick any random sentence of your choice. Then, you rearrange the words in the sentence, abbreviate and turn the initials into a password.  This is a cool way of creating easily memorable passwords.

2. Emoticons Also Work

You can bet that a hacker would be unable to crack a password that has emoticons. Emoticons are coded representations of emojis. Think of an emoticon as an emoji, but represented using punctuation, letters, or numbers.

It is impossible to add an emoji to a password, even if the option is available. The next best thing then is to use an emoticon instead. There are several options you could choose from. As highlighted above, the great thing about taking this route is that the hacker would scarcely expect it.

3. Use a Password Generator

A password generator is an app that helps you generate unique passwords without stress. Also, it stores all of those in a server, eliminating the possibility that you could be shut out of your account if you forget the password. Password generators are convenient, straightforward, and easy to use. More so, they are not hard to find: you can easily download one from your device’s app store.

Please bear in mind that a password generator app can either be free or paid for. Expectedly, the free versions do not offer the full range of options that you get with the paid ones. Thus, if you are really serious about online security, you should download one and then get on a subscription.

4. Engage the PAO Method

The PAO method focuses on using visual representations to create passwords. The method works like this: Imagine an interesting place (Say the Eiffel tower), then focus on someone you know/someone famous. Imagine them doing something at that location. In the end, it would look something like “My Mum watching the stars at the Eiffel Tower”. From this, you can create a mnemonic password.

One of the benefits of this method is that it is relatively easy to memorize and remember your passwords. What are the odds that you would forget a password like the one above? Furthermore, the seeming randomness of the letters will throw off any hacker on your trail.

5. The Inverted Dictionary Method

This method is targeted explicitly at besting the dictionary attack method. Here, you will also be using the dictionary to evade any software carrying out a dictionary attack.

Just go through the dictionary and select a random word. Bear in mind that what appears random to you would not be the same for an app designed for that particular purpose. Thus, you should string a couple of random words together. Then throw in some random symbols and numbers to make it strong. Voila, you are good to go!

Tips for Remembering Your Passwords

The idea is to remember the passwords without compromising your security. This means that it might not be great to write down the password – anyone could see it. Here are a few tricks to remember your passwords without compromising your security.

  1. Create a tip sheet: You can leave clues that only you can decipher. Your password will stay hidden still.
  2. Create your own code and stick to it.
  3. In creating sentences, use people/ideas/locations that have some significance for you.
  4. Create Mnemonics and memorize them.
  5. Store your passwords in a password manager.
  6. If you must write down your passwords, always disguise them.

Conclusion

Security challenges are increasing by the day. Thus, you have to look for ways to stay constantly alert and on top of your security. One way to do this is to make sure that the passwords to your online accounts are impenetrable. In this article, we’ve shown you the various ways you can generate strong and reliable passwords. Even further, there are tips on remembering your passwords, saving you the headache of being locked out of an account. Cheers to stronger security!

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