Creating a strong password is essential to staying safe online

Written by Adam Turner for Australian Seniors. 

Simple passwords are easy to crack, but complicated ones are easy to forget. The trick to dreaming up the perfect password for anything from banks to emails is to choose something memorable that no-one else would guess in a million years.

Don’t use words found in the dictionary, as they’re the first thing hackers run through their computer program, ditto the most commonly used passwords such as 123456 and just ‘password’ itself. Likewise, don’t use the names of your children, pets or favourite sports team – these are all easily gleaned by searching online.

How to create a strong password 

The best passwords are at least 12 characters long and look like gibberish to anyone else. They should contain upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and symbols. 

So how do you remember a password that looks like nonsense? One trick is to take a phrase, lyric or rhyme and use the first letter of each word. Throw in some capitalisation, numbers and symbols for good measure. For example, the first few lines of Hey Diddle Diddle might become: HdD-tCaTf-TcJoTm-50. 

That’s easy for you to remember, if you sing along under your breath, but difficult for a computer to crack or a hacker to guess. Securing important documents is also essential. 

Online security

Don’t reuse passwords because, if hackers crack your email password, they will check and see if it works with your Facebook account. For more passwords, use a different line from the same phrase, lyric or rhyme. If you struggle to remember them all, consider a password manager software application such as LastPass or 1Password, which can remember your passwords and even generate strong passwords for you.

Many online services now also offer two-factor or multi-factor authentication. It’s an extra layer of security that helps keep out hackers even if they discover your password. For example, when you log into Facebook from a new device for the first time, you’re sent a one-off code as a text. This way, you can only get into your account if you know the password and you have your phone.

Keeping your password safe from online scammers and hackers is important, but what about your home and valuables? Keep them protected with Seniors Home & Contents Insurance.