Golden key in keyholeWhen you open an online account of any kind (anything from Facebook to online banking), you generally want to set the minimum password length to at least eight characters. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack, so for even greater security, set the minimum password length to 14 characters.

• It can be a word; I recommend using a non-English word.
• Or it can be a a phrase, such “the cow jumped over the moon,” without spaces between the words in the phrase.
• At least one character should be upper case.
• One or more of the letters could be substituted for a number using leet, or leetspeak, a method of typing words using alternate characters. Letters are replaced with numbers or symbols that closely resemble them. For example, the letter “a” might be replaced with “@”, the symbol. The letter “E” might be replaced with the number 3 and the letter “i” can be  replaced with the number 1.
• If permitted, include a control character such as an asterisk (*) or a caret or circumflex (^).

The result will not be the final password, but what I call the “core password,” which is the base from which you create the password for the account you are using it for.

For example, if your core password is “theC0wjumped^0verthem00n,” you can add an “F” at the beginning, and a “B” at the end and use it for your Facebook account. If want to use for your Gmail account, you can add “GM” to the end or the beginning of the core password.

How to remember your passwords

My recommendation is to write it down in a hard copy notebook. Make sure you note which account the password is for. Include the date when it was first created. Keep the notebook in a secured area, like a locked desk or file cabinet. Keeping password information on your cellphone, tablet and computer is not advised. Neither is keeping them in your wallet or handbag.

If you may need password information when you’re not at home, write it on a piece of paper, keeping your notebook  secured at home. When you’re done using the password, make sure to destroy the paper and discard it. Ripping to little pieces will do the trick.

Remember, passwords are the keys to your online kingdom. Beat the hackers by creating strong passwords and by keeping them secure.

Contact me with questions about online security.
Christopher Duque |