Let's face it: nowadays we do a lot of things online. We bank through websites, make purchases, schedule meetings, rent DVDs, even grocery shop. Almost all of the websites used require a password when you register for them to become a member.
Password security is a huge issue, and password theft has been increasing over the last few years, along with identity theft. Why is this? Do people not have strong passwords? The answer is, often, yes. Using names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, or any words in a password makes it lose strength, as key loggers and hackers have a much easier time deciphering these sorts of passwords. The strongest passwords don't contain full words, but use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
So what constitutes a "strong" password?
Generally, a strong password consists of random letters and numbers, so an outside source can't simply guess it based on knowing small amounts of information about you. Here are some big-time no's for passwords:
Don't use names, whether they be yours, family members, or celebrities. Names are easy to guess, especially of the outside source trying to get into your information knows you.
Social Security Number
Though we are told countless times to safeguard information as valuable as our Social Security Number, you'd be surprised how often people attempt to use this nine-digit number as a password. This is one of the worst ideas in the world, for if a key logger (someone who installs malicious software into your computer to recall information you have typed) gets hold of this information, your entire identity is at stake. Soon bank accounts, mortgages, or car loans could be opened up in your name without your consent or knowledge. Never, under any circumstance, use even part of your SSN as a password.
You might think that a sequence of numbers is a good password, and may be tempted to use your birthday (MM/DD/YYYY) as a password. This is also advised against, due to its ineffectiveness. Since the password would be entirely comprised of numbers, a computer hacker would be able to eventually steal it after a while by simple process of elimination.
Now that we know what doesn't constitute strength, let's try to come up with a few possibilities that might be acceptable. We know that full words can't be used, but parts certainly could. Even better, create a sentence that you can easily remember, and use just the first letter of every word. Add symbols or special characters, such as the dollar sign ($) or ampersand (&), numbers, and punctuation if possible.
The minimum length should be at least 8 characters, but longer in this case is certainly better. The greater the variety in your password, generally the stronger it is. And remember, you can always hand write your passwords down to keep in a safe place, as no computer hacker in the world is going to be able to see that notepad in your desk.