How to create strong passwords

Strong passwords are important protections to help you have safer online transactions. The main keys to password strength are length and complexity – the ideal password is long and has letters, punctuation, symbols, and numbers.

The difficulty of course is remembering them – especially when you need a password for every utility bill, bank account, holiday account etc.

Here are a few suggestions on how to create strong, meaningful passwords.

  • Whenever possible, use at least 14 characters or more.
  • The greater the variety of characters in your password, the better.
  • Use the entire keyboard, not just the letters and characters you use or see most often.

Create a strong password you can remember
There are many ways to create a long, complex password. Here is one way that may make remembering it easier:

Start with a sentence or two (about 10 words total).
Think of something meaningful to you, ie Long and complex passwords are the safest in my opinion

Turn your sentences into a row of letters by use the first letter of each word.
lacpatsimo opinion (10 characters)

Add complexity - make only the letters in the first half of the alphabet uppercase.
LACpAtsImO (10 characters)

Add length with numbers - put two numbers that are meaningful to you between the two sentences.
LACpAts42ImO (12 characters)

Add length with punctuation - put a punctuation mark at the beginning.
?LACpAts42ImO (13 characters)

  • Add length with symbols - put a symbol at the end.
    ?LACpAts42ImO" (14 characters)

Test your password with a password checker
A password checker evaluates your password's strength automatically. Try our secure password checker.

Protect your passwords from prying eyes
The easiest way to ‘remember’ passwords is to write them down. It is okay to write passwords down, but keep them secure.

Common password pitfalls to avoid
Cyber criminals use sophisticated tools that can rapidly decipher passwords. Avoid creating passwords using:

  • Dictionary words in any language.
  • Words spelled backwards, common misspellings, and abbreviations.
  • Sequences or repeated characters. Examples: 12345678, 222222, abcdefg, or adjacent letters on your keyboard (qwerty).
  • Personal information. Your name, birthday, driver's licence, passport number, or similar information.

Finally - this won't help you with your passwords, but it will help protect your data -  make sure you have downloaded Security Essentials, which offers free-of-charge anti-virus protection for up to 10 PCs.