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How safe is your password?

By: Kelly Leighton on in

Unfortunately, data breaches are far too common these days.

Not only are large-scale breaches more and more common, like recent ones at Target and Home Depot, but so are smaller ones. How many times have you logged onto Facebook only to see a suspicious post from a friend offering free iPhones? Or checked out Twitter only to see a fellow Realtor® touting weight loss pills?

One way to protect yourself is to keep a unique password. You should know by now how sensitive much of this information is. Not only your social media accounts, but your website, your banking information, and so forth.

Yet, so many people fall into the trap of using an easy password.

SplashData released a list of the 25 worst passwords of 2014. Is yours on the list?
[one_half]

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345
  4. 12345678
  5. qwerty
  6. 123456789
  7. 1234
  8. baseball
  9. dragon
  10. football
  11. 1234567
  12. monkey
  13. letmein

[/one_half]
[one_half_last]

  1. abc123
  2. 111111
  3. mustang
  4. access
  5. shadow
  6. master
  7. michael
  8. superman
  9. 696969
  10. 123123
  11. batman
  12. trustno1

[/one_half_last]

How do you make a secure password? Bruce Schneier, the CTO of Co3 Systems, recommends taking a sentence and turning it into a password using the first letters from each word. For example:

In 2011, I ran my first marathon in Scranton! = I2IrmfmiS!

My favorite color has always been green! = Mfchabg!

Another option is the Person–Action–Object, or PAO, method, as described in Joshua Foer’s 2011 book Moonwalking with Einstein. First, select an image of an interesting place (Empire State Building), a famous person (Frank Sinatra), a random action (running) and a random object (a hamburger). It’s sort of like Mad Libs.

Then, compose a sentence. Frank Sinatra running with a hamburger in the Empire State Building.

Take and combine something from this sentence, such as Fraburg or Rumemp to start your password.

Do the same for one to three other stories, combine your new, made-up words together, and you’ll have created a password that seems random, but you will remember.

If you have trouble remember the password to all your logins (and yes, each should have a different password), sites like LastPass or 1Password will store them for you. Now, to only remember the password for that login.

How do you create random passwords? How about keeping track of all of them?

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