Do you remember the password fiasco that happened with Twitter in 2009? Long story short, an 18-year-old hacker ended up in control of a staff member’s Twitter account due to her very easy-to-hack password — “happiness.” He shared the information on a hackers’ forum, allowing complete strangers access to the accounts of high-profile individuals such as Barack Obama, Britney Spears, and even Fox News.

But despite all that, there still exist countless people out there whose passwords are frustratingly simple. That means this joke from Spaceballs is still very relevant!

So, how DO you create a secure, hacker-proof password?

Well, you can’t. Hackers will exist as long as the technology exists, and those hackers will create more and more advanced programs that will figure out your login information after a certain number of tries. The trick to keeping them out, however, is how long it will take them to do so.

This site is an amazing service that analyzes your passwords and tells you how quickly they can be cracked. “Happiness”, for example, will take a desktop PC roughly 22 minutes to hack. Fourteen random numbers? About six hours. Go ahead and find out how quickly your password can be found out yourself!

So, how do you create secure passwords? Here are a few tips I’ve gathered just for you!

  • Length is important. Aim for longer than 8 characters.
  • Stop using names! Specifically, don’t use your name, your family member’s names, or your company’s name. It’s really easy to guess.
  • Don’t use the same password for every account — OR, use the same one for less-important things (random sign-ups, an unpopular personal blog, other accounts you’re not worried about), and create unique ones for the rest (your business site, PayPal/bank information, etc.)
  • Don’t rely on auto-fill! Write your passwords down. I have a little notebook I keep with me at all times that contains every password to every account I have access to, just in case. Writing something down also helps you remember things easier, too.
  • Turn your passwords into a phrase. I love this example from Microsoft: “Relate your passwords to a favorite hobby or sport. For example, I love to play badminton could become ILuv2PlayB@dm1nt()n.”
  • OR you can do what I do: turn your password into a set of 4 or more words that only have significance to you. For example, let’s say my password’s theme is Songs I Like. So “ApplauseDarkH0rseBrave” would be a great password. I also always like to add one number or symbol in the middle and capitalizing the beginning of each word to be extra safe, too.

You should always protect your property whether it be online or not. You might not think a hacker would be interested in what you’ve got, but you’ll never know until it’s too late. Keep that in mind and stay safe!

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