How to create a strong password

There is often only one thing standing between you and cybercriminals—your password. If they get it, they can log on to your computer, access the college network, steal private files, and wreak havoc.

For this reason, it is important to know what makes a password strong and secure.

The easiest way to create a password is to use something simple that works everywhere; however, this is a bad idea. Cybercriminals are very good at guessing passwords, and they have computer programs that can make millions of guesses until something works.

Your first thought might be to use a pet’s name, a birth date, an address, or parts of a phone number. These things are too easy for criminals to discover, so do not use them.

Your password should not include information about you!

The RRC password policy requires the following:

  • Your password must be at least eight characters long.
  • Your password must contain at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, and one number.
  • Your password should contain at least one nonalphanumeric character (although not a requirement).

Making a strong password that is easy to remember is not the easiest task—right? Wrong! The tips below will save you time and frustration when you receive the notice that your password is about to expire and you need to create a new one. Please continue reading . . .

What makes a strong password?

There are ways to have difficult, but memorable, passwords. Here is how.

In addition to single words, phrases also can be easy to remember such as a favorite quote, the first line in a book, or a song lyric. For example, you could use this lyric from a Beatles song: “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

It is easy to remember by singing it to yourself, and your password is contained within the first letter of each word of the lyric: igbwalhfmf.

You still need to strengthen this password by adding uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters, though. Adding these additional elements creates a very strong password: igbw@lhFmF8.

Here is why: it is not in the dictionary, so it is harder for criminals to guess it. There are about 171,476 words in the English dictionary, and a criminal with a computer program can quickly test each of those words, so do not use dictionary words.

But there’s still a risk . . .

Password don’ts

  • Don’t disclose passwords or PINs to anyone. Many account takeovers occur because the owner shared the password.
  • Don’t store passwords on your phone, under your keyboard, in a file, or on a sticky note on your computer.
  • Don’t be tricked into revealing your password to anyone.
  • Don’t use the same password (or even simple variations) for different accounts. Use a unique password for each account; otherwise, one stolen password could put all your accounts at risk.

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