Security breaches are a reality of the world we live in. You've likely read news about information and passwords leaked online because of hackers' attempts to illegally access data. It's enough to make you paranoid about your own passwords, worrying that your information is vulnerable. Most companies employ strong encryption to keep your vital information safe. 

Chances are you personally won't be targeted by a hacker, but it's still a possibility. That's why it's important to protect your accounts online with strong passwords. Using your pet's name or the street you live on isn't the best choice, because this information is easily accessible from social media sites. You can create a strong password by following these five tips.

  1. Longer is better. One of the best tips for a strong password is to create one that's long – at least 12 characters. The longer a password, the longer it takes password crackers to figure it out. Aim for 15-character passwords, if possible – some online accounts limit your password length.
  2. Mix it up. If, in an attempt to create a long password, you simply combine the names of your children, you're doing yourself a disservice. You need to mix up the characters – use numbers, symbols if possible, and capitalization here and there. The more random characters you use, the better, because computers that hackers use to try crack passwords won't be able to figure it out as easily.
  3. Create unique passwords. Use a different password for every account you have to minimize risk. If one of your passwords is cracked, your other accounts won't be compromised, so it's an extra layer of security across your accounts.
  4. Use phrases, but avoid the obvious. One of the best ways to create a strong password is to use a phrase. A full sentence is harder for password-cracking programs to guess, but if a phrase is common, it is easier to guess. So avoid phrases that you use often on social media sites or sentences that would be obvious to anyone close to you.
  5. Install a password manager. When all else fails, use a password manager. You can find programs that create unique, strong passwords for you and store them for your desktop and mobile devices. You get a variety of passwords, but you only have to remember one: the one for your password manager.

Many industry leaders suggest that you come up with a sentence that's easy for you to remember, but hard for a hacker with sophisticated software to crack. Some strong password examples are "Myp4ssw0rdiSmyf4cE" and "ilovemydogmisterpeeve." These passwords, according to a password checker online, would take 145 trillion years and 410 billion years for a password cracker to generate, respectively.

If you follow these strong password tips, you should be able to keep your accounts safe and secure. Perhaps one of the most obvious tips for keeping your passwords safe is to not tell anyone your password, and don't write your password down and keep it near your computer.

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