One of my quirks is an uncanny ability to create nearly impenetrable passwords. Are the passwords I create for my clients quick to type and easy to remember? No. But they offer the type of data protection I demand for my clients.

When I received a report recently with the most popular passwords of 2017, I couldn’t help but shake my head. I have a feeling that, if you know anything about cyber security, you’ll have the same reaction. Here are the top 10, according to SplashData:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. Qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. letmein
  8. 1234567
  9. football
  10. iloveyou

Number 16 on the list was an interesting addition for 2017, so it’s worth mentioning too. It was “starwars.”

Now, I love Star Wars and football just as much as the next guy, and I can relate to the frustration of just wanting to get let in to an account, but to use these words and number series as a password is asking for trouble. If you’re tempted to steal from this list of passwords because they’re easy to type and remember, I urge you to think twice.

Here are a few tips from yours truly, the password fanatic, on how to create memorable, yet strong passwords.

Avoid Patterns

Notice that some of the most popular passwords contain a series of numbers. These series are patterns that are easy to guess and easy to hack. SplashData reported seeing some attempt at securing this style of password by adding a character at the end (for example, 123456!) but alas, adding a character does not make the password safer to use.

I suggest avoiding patterns in general. Instead, mix up your password with letters, numbers, and characters. More on how to do that effectively below

Jumble a Phrase

If you demand a password you can remember, choose a phrase you love. Since ‘starwars’ made the list of popular passwords, let’s use this as an example to illustrate this point.

Once you have a phrase in mind that’s memorable to you, jumble it with numbers and characters. Starwars could then become $t@r34rS or S!a&w@r$. It’s hard to see but those characters and numbers are replacing letters. $ can be used in lieu of the letter S. @ can be used in lieu of the letter a. It’s a simple concept but when used effectively it can exponentially increase your password’s strength while still making it memorable.

Now, although this approach helps, using a phrase and replacing letters with numbers that look similar isn’t always the safest approach. Still, it’s far better than typing a series of words that are easy to guess, so we’re at least moving a step in the right direction if you use this method.

Use a Password Generator and Keeper

The most secure types of passwords are those you could never rattle off to a friend or remember to type without hours of practice. They’re secure because they’re nonsensical. Having a password like this might sound like a nightmare scenario, but there are apps to help you remember and protect them, so you don’t have to memorize 20 random characters, numbers, or letters.

To generate a password, I like Random.org’s Password Generator. You can choose how many characters each password should be and how many different passwords you need.  

Storing passwords, so you can quickly pull them up when needed, is another important step. After all, what good is a password if you don’t have it when you need to login to an account? There are a few services that help with this. A few of my favorite include:

Ready to Create a Strong Password?

I’m an advocate for strong passwords because I’ve seen the devastation it can cause when passwords aren’t secure. There’s a reason for being such a stickler about this and I hope when you create your next password, you choose a strong one for your sake.

Want extra help with your cyber security? I’m here for you. Give us a call for a free audit of your business’s security and find loopholes you might not know exist.

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