The first step in password security is making sure that you follow good password selection practices. Hackers use special programs called password crackers to try to guess users' passwords. To defend against these tools, it's important to choose a strong password.
We recommend that you avoid choosing things that are easily discovered about you (for example, by looking at the pictures on your desk or reading your Facebook page) like names of relatives or pets, names of streets or towns where you've lived, names of schools you've attended, names of favorite sports teams, names of favorite musical groups, etc.
If you are having trouble picking a password that is easy to remember, here's one popular method for choosing a strong password that meets the above requirements and is easy to remember:
- Think of a line or two from a favorite song or a poem, and use the first letter of each word.
- Use numbers to replace a couple of letters: '1' looks like an 'I', '2' looks like a 'Z', '3' looks like a backward 'E', '4' looks like an uppercase 'A', '5' looks like an 'S', '6' looks like a lowercase 'b', '7' looks like an upside-down 'L', '9' looks like a lowercase 'g', and '0' looks like an 'O'.
- Add a punctuation character somewhere.
For example, let's use the statement, "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener."
- In step 1 we use only the first letter of each word in the statement and get "IwIwaOMw".
- In Step 2, we can replace an 'I' with a '1' and the 'O' with a '0' to get "Iw1wa0Mw".
- Finally, in step 3, we add an exclamation point to get our final password, "Iw1wa0Mw!".
...and voila! You have your strong password.
To learn more about password protection, our Security Handbook features this information and more.