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What Makes a Good Password?

Updated on February 23, 2017

Do You Have a Good Password?

Every day, people are getting their online accounts hacked. Users are warned to be sure they have a "good" password. But what makes a "good" password?

Do you know what "phishing" is? Do you know how to make a good password? What can you do if you lose or forget your password?

Here are some tips and common mistakes. These tips are helpful for anyone who is on social media, or who uses the internet for banking, bill-paying, or buying products online.

There are also products and services that will help you generate a good password or remember your passwords.

Heartbleed - The Newest Threat to Your Passwords - Am I affected?

Have you heard about the newest threat to your passwords? Do you need to change yours?

What NOT to Choose

Bad password, bad!

Don't use:

The word "password". Seems obvious, but it's one of the most common (and easily guessed).

Your name or a family member's name

Your address

Your social security number

Qwerty (top row of letters on a keyboard)

Consecutive numbers (like 12345)

A Purple Giraffe?

For Visual Thinkers

Wha...?

Some people are "visual thinkers" so if you can picture something WILD in your head (like a purple giraffe) you can use that as your password.

Take the words in the image - purplegiraffe

Now remove the vowels prplgrff

Now, imagine it is a GIANT giraffe! It weighs a ton (2000 lbs)

Add that at the beginning or the end of the password to make "prplgrff2000"

Of course you don't have to use a giant purple giraffe. Make up any crazy image, so long as it is meaningful to you, and easy for you to visualize. This will make remembering it much easier.

Password Humor - Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

Make Up Your Own

Creating a unique password

The problem with trying to come up with a difficult-to-guess password, is that you yourself want to be able to remember it easily!

Random letters and numbers may be hard for hackers to get, but who wants to use a password that is hard to remember?

Think about your childhood. Do you remember your elementary school teachers' names?

Example:

Jones

Barnes

Griffin

Smith

Kinder

Use the first letter of their last names to make "JBGSK"

Now add some numbers. This could be the house number where you lived, or the year you started school - something that YOU can easily remember, but would be really hard for anyone else to guess. What names or numbers you use is up to you, but choosing something from your childhood is an easy way to select things that no one else is likely to guess, yet won't be hard for you to use.

Let's say your address when you were in elementary school was 1285 Olive Street. Now your password is JBGSK1285. Or 1285JBGSK. Or 1J2B8G5SK. Mix it up any way you want, so long as YOU can remember it. Be sure to write it down someplace.

Hope you found this helpful!

Learn More About Good Passwords

I have given you some basic information about passwords. It is a good idea to read more deeply about this topic to understand the importance of a good password, and how to protect yourself.

There are also items available to help you recover your password.

Favorite Things as Password

Another way to generate your own unique password is to think of your favorite things.

Think of a favorite color, vacation spot, hair color, season, holiday or even flavor of ice cream. Your favorite things are going to be easy for you to remember. Use caution though as you may have family members, friends or even people on social media sites who know your favorite things.

This means you are going to need to "mix it up" by not simply using the words as they are written. You can use the same trick I mentioned in "Purple Giraffe" where you drop all of the vowels, or you can try spelling the words backwards (although some password hackers have already thought of this, and they have programs set up to decrypt your password by reading it backwards).

You can take two words and rearrange the letters using every other letter. Here is an example:

Say your favorite color is VIOLET. And your favorite season is AUTUMN. You could make a password alternating the letters to make a password that reads: VAIUOTLUEMTN.

Many password requirements will ask for you to include numbers. Do not add a number that is easy to guess, like your age, or the year you were born. Go back to the "favorite" things, and think of the year of election for your favorite president, or the year you attended your favorite concert. Maybe your favorite make of automobile, such as a '67 Mustang, you could add "67" or "6" and "7" into your password.

Do not simply write the words out as they are normally spelled, because computer hackers who use software designed to crack your password have the program set to recognize full words. So using the above example, VIOLETAUTUMN would not be a strong password, because a hacker could easily spot that it is two words, spelled normally.

Learn about Phishing

Do you know what the term "phishing" means?

Phishing (pronounced as "fishing") means someone is trying to trick you into giving them your secure information, such as your password or bank or credit card account number. Sometimes the people trying to get your information will pretend to be your bank, your credit card company, PayPal, or a representative from a social media site like Twitter or Facebook.

You may receive an e-mail from the pretender asking you to click on a link within the e-mail. It will direct you to a website that looks very similar to the website they are pretending to be. These pretenders are very clever but they are deceitful. The site they send you to is a scam to steal your security information. When you go to the fake website, you will be asked for your account information, such as the password or the account number.

BEWARE! These websites are part of a scam to steal your information! If you get an e-mail claiming to be from a financial institution or a social media site and they are asking for your vital information, it is almost always a scam. Do not click on the link in the e-mail! Even if you don't provide the information, sometimes simply visiting the fake site can infect your computer with a virus that will scan your computer for the information. Always go directly to the website you know is valid, and see if you have any messages or requests.

Good Advice

When I started this page, several people sent me links to articles about passwords. Great advice here!

Baby Talk

Another sneaky way to make a password

Did you or your children ever speak in "baby talk" such as "oh what a pwetty baby" (mispronouncing the "R" in pretty as a "W" because that is how young children often pronounce it)? Use that special language to create your unique password!

Here's an example Some children say the word "spaghetti" as something more like "pasketti." Think of the way you or your children talked as children. Was there some particular word or phrase that had a special pronunciation? Use that unique "made-up" word as a password. It will be easy for you to remember, but difficult (since it isn't a real word) for a hacker to guess.

What Are Your Thoughts?

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    • MartiLawrence profile image
      Author

      Marti Lawrence 3 years ago from Grain Valley, Missouri

      @Lynda Makara: That's a good method to use!

      Thank you for your response. All the best to you!

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 3 years ago from California

      I have a core password, a random mix of letters and numbers, that I memorized. Added to that are two random letters from the name of the site. Now each site I use has its own unique password.

    • MartiLawrence profile image
      Author

      Marti Lawrence 3 years ago from Grain Valley, Missouri

      @Arachnea: Thanks you! I appreciate your visit and your comment.

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

      great info above.

    • MartiLawrence profile image
      Author

      Marti Lawrence 3 years ago from Grain Valley, Missouri

      @goldenrulecomics: Thank you!

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 3 years ago

      Good advice

    • MartiLawrence profile image
      Author

      Marti Lawrence 3 years ago from Grain Valley, Missouri

      @anonymous: Thank you for stopping by! Yes, it is hard to remember all those random numbers and letters!

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I am very active on the internet and use everyone of the tricks that you define here. I still, however, have a hard time remembering them. I found a free password manager several years ago that works exceptionally well and includes a password generator if one is needed.. It helps me keep track of all my passwords under a single one that never goes out to the net. It is called PasswordKeeper.

    • MartiLawrence profile image
      Author

      Marti Lawrence 4 years ago from Grain Valley, Missouri

      @anonymous: Thank you for stopping by!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is a good lens - I still get phishing emails from banks that I have never had an account with. If your real online bank account has been locked - the bank website will give you the message, not an email. The website also provides the contact number for your to CALL to unlock your password.

      Always remember the model:

      password = P@55w0rd

    • Winter52 LM profile image

      Winter52 LM 4 years ago

      You did give me lots to think about and I think that I have my bases covered, but it's getting harder and harder!

    • MartiLawrence profile image
      Author

      Marti Lawrence 4 years ago from Grain Valley, Missouri

      @BarbRad: You make some really good points. I remember when Sarah Palin's e-mail got hacked because they were able to figure out the security questions from information she had made public about herself.

      I never tried last pass myself, someone recommended it. It sounds like a hassle.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment - I really appreciate it!

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I tried Last Pass once, but it drove me crazy. I thought it was the solution to having over 100 different passwords, but I finally quit using it. That was years ago and I can't remember what I didn't like, but I think it kept making me answer questions all the time. I also wonder now how it handles different accounts for the same site where you have to keep logging in and out. I have a short, sweet default password I use for sites that don't really matter to me and that I might only use a few times. It's only six letters. For banking I choose very secure passwords. I'm not quite as careful with social networks except to not feed them with information about me that will help people steal my identity. I think banks and other sites that make you fill our security questions should choose better ones. Anyone who read all my lenses would know the answers to most of those questions. Lots of that information is in People's profiles, such as first elementary school, the city in which you were born, your pet's name, etc. I've had to take to making things up now to get an answer that I haven't posted somewhere.

    • MartiLawrence profile image
      Author

      Marti Lawrence 4 years ago from Grain Valley, Missouri

      @BestRatedStuff: That's a really good idea! I appreciate you stopping by and sharing that information!

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 4 years ago

      I tend to make short nonsensical phrases that I can remember, but spell then weird with a few numbers of other symbols added to the mix. The end is a strong password I can remember.

    • MartiLawrence profile image
      Author

      Marti Lawrence 4 years ago from Grain Valley, Missouri

      @Bill Armstrong: Glad you enjoyed the lens. I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment!

    • MartiLawrence profile image
      Author

      Marti Lawrence 4 years ago from Grain Valley, Missouri

      @Scraps2treasures: Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! I'm glad you found some value in the content.

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 4 years ago from Valencia, California

      Some nice advice given here, good food for thought

    • Scraps2treasures profile image

      Scraps2treasures 4 years ago

      Great tips! You never can be too safe in this day and age. Blessed

    • MartiLawrence profile image
      Author

      Marti Lawrence 4 years ago from Grain Valley, Missouri

      @malena10: That is a very good idea, to update passwords regularly! Thanks for stopping by!

    • malena10 profile image

      malena10 4 years ago

      I think it is good to change password every little time, I use almost the same in every blog or page and change it sometimes. And I always have strong password.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 4 years ago from New York City

      The next step will be getting people a way to remember their many passwords without leaving them on a sticky somewhere on their desks.