Tips for Creating a Secure Password

Published 20/05/2004 16:20   |    Updated 15/12/2008 18:49

What guidelines should I follow to create a secure password?

  1. Choose a password you will remember but one that is difficult to guess, even by someone who knows you.

  2. Choose a long password. The more characters your password contains, the harder it is to crack. Each character added to your password increases the total number of combinations possible. A long but simple password can be as secure as a short and complex one -- and often easier to remember.

  3. Use a combination of letters, numbers (0-9), and standard symbols (! @ # 0 ^ & *) to make your password more difficult for others to guess. Also remember most passwords are case-sensitive (capital letters are different to the same letters in lower case), another option to remember when thinking of a good password.

    A good technique is to pick a favourite phrase or lyric for your password. It can be shortened by substituting characters or taking out vowels, rather like you might do in text messages. If you choose, you can just use the whole sentence or phrase. e.g."2F@st2Furi0u$"

  4. Don't use personal information that someone could easily guess or work out, such as your birthday, child's name, or phone number. Also, avoid obvious passwords such as "123456," "test," "password."

  5. Find a good way to remember your password. One way to do this is to choose the first letters of a sentence that you will remember. e.g. "I have 2 dogs called Rover and Fido" gives: Ih2dcRaF

  6. Take the street you grew up on, and your first pet/something hard to guess from your past, put a number sign in between, substitute some letters for numbers, and, hey presto! A great password. For example: John grew up on Collins Avenue, and his first pet was Rocky. His password would be: C011in5#r0ckY

    You can add random capitals to make it more secure. Use punctuation to your advantage. To incorporate a colon into the previous example, remember the sentence as "I have 2 dogs: Rover and Fido", which would give: Ih2d:RaF

  7. One other way is to use a word(s), for example, BT Ireland, and move your fingers up one row on the keyboard. BTIreland becomes G5843oqhe.

  8. If you use a password generator, don't share any personal information. There are a number of password generator programs available online to help you create a random password. These passwords are generally harder to crack but also more difficult to remember.

  9. Mix up your password, but keep it memorable. Try substituting letters with characters or numbers. You can also take out vowels or consonants from words.


For Example

  • The phrase "Fredsboy" can be made into: Fr€d$b0Y
  • The phrase "Too fast too furious" can be made into: *2F@5t2Furi0us*
  • The words "cat" and "dog" can be combined into; !cAt:DoG!


Good Passwords are:

  • Unique. Do not use a password you already use for another account, such as your bank account PIN.
  • Difficult to guess. Don't use common words or names.
  • At least 7-characters long.
  • Made up of both lower and upper-case letters, numbers, and symbols.


Bad Passwords include:

  • A complete word from any dictionary (English or other).
  • Your login name in any form (as is, reversed, capitalised, doubled, etc.)
  • Common names, such as the names of family members, pets, or friends.
  • Based on any information easily obtained about you (e.g., license plate numbers, telephone numbers, employer, school name, car brand, street name, etc.)
  • All the same digit or letter (this significantly decreases the search time for password cracking software.)
  • Any obvious sequence of characters (e.g., 123456.)
  • Obvious to anyone watching you enter them (such as "qwerty").


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