Here’s some advice about creating strong passwords. Passwords that are strong enough to resist hacking by unauthorised people yet easy enough to remember are an essential part of your computer security, whether for use on a local computer that is used by several people, or when logging in to a banking or shopping site on the Internet.

When thinking about passwords, the tendency is to find a neat password and use it for everything, mainly because it’s easier to remember. NO! No! No! Although you could argue that one secure password is better than lots of insecure passwords, if someone cracks your password, they can get into everywhere you have used it. It is much better to have unique passwords, especially if you bank online, or regularly use the internet for shopping or use other programs where there is sensitive data being used or displayed.

Passwords must be unique and should be at least 8 digits long, preferably 12 with both letters and numbers. If you have a secure place to store it, a neat little trick is to use a Rolodex, or revolving card index, to store your passwords. No problem trying to remember your passwords any more – keep the Rolodex right by your computer (as long as it is not left on your desk in an open office!), and it takes just seconds to flip to the password you’re looking for. There are password management software programs available, but I am never sure how secure these really are. If you have a simple tool for password retrieval, you can be really creative in your passwords. You are no longer going to be using the same password. You’re going to make up new ones every time you join a new program or find a new shop on the Internet. Nothing will protect you more than this. This is the way to create strong passwords secure enough to keep the toughest hackers at bay.

Let me give you some examples of creation of strong, secure passwords. Take a look around your desk. You might find a Untility bill, 3 pens and a stapler. Okay, so how about creating a strong password as util3staples. That’s 12 characters. Let’s make the password even more secure. My Utility bill is £57. How about changing the password to 57util3staples. That is now a 14 character password that would be hard to crack. There is nothing in there that relates to you, your dog, your birthdate, your house number, your post code. Now that’s a perfect password.

Most passwords are case-sensitive, so you could capitalise a letter, for instance in the example above we could change it to 57uTil3stAples. Another way for further sophistication for secure passwords, is to convert letters to numbers that look similar, such that you can still read the word. Thus a letter ‘O’ becomes the number zero, a letter ‘S’ becomes the number 5, and so on. If you keep your creative hat on, there is plenty of scope for creating secure, strong passwords!