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Best practices for a strong P@s$w0rd.

A strong password is a vital first line of defense against unauthorized access to your online accounts. That’s why so many sites require a strong password to create an account. Hackers and malicious software will be denied by strong passwords, so follow these tips and tricks for creating a great password to keep you safe.

Be smart

Never include easy-to-access personal information in your password. This could be your username, email address, your real name or company name or even your pet’s name. Those are often the easiest passwords to create, so they’re the easiest ones to crack.

Think passphrase, not password

Typically, experts recommend a password that’s at least 12 characters long. Rather than thinking of a single word and adding additional characters, try creating an acronym from a piece of information that's easy to remember. Pick a meaningful phrase, such as "My dog’s birthday is 8 March 2007," and turn it into the password "mdbi8march07."

Get creative

Strengthen your password even further and have fun with it! Combine upper and lowercase letters, numbers and permitted symbols. Because traditional characters on a keyboard provide limited options for complexity, special characters like @, $, &, etc. can help strengthen passwords. Plus, they’re fun to use! You can substitute numbers, symbols and misspellings for letters or words in an easy-to-remember phrase.

From the previous example, the password could become "MiDog$_BrthdAiz_8307." Another idea—use your favorite hobby or sport to form your password. For example, "I love hiking" could become "iLuvH!k1ng.”

Change is good

When you can bank, shop and pay online, the logins begin to stack up, and it can be easy to use the same password for all—RESIST. Create passwords that are significantly different from each other. That way, if one password is compromised, the rest of your accounts and logins are still safe.

Learn more about how reusing passwords across online logins can open you up to a type of fraudulent attack called credential stuffing.

If you’re worried about remembering which password is which, create passwords specific to the industry or site they’re for. For example, for an online outdoors shop, “iLuvH!k1ng” makes sense. For a beauty store, something like “Lo0kgr8Feelgr8”— “look great, feel great” is a strong password. Remember, get creative.

Keep them safe

If you feel the need to write down or store your passwords in one place, make sure you don't label them as passwords or login info. Also, don’t keep them in an easy-to-access place like a note on your phone or a list in your wallet. That way, if one of those items is stolen, all your accounts aren’t compromised as well. Consider using a password manager app that safely stores and protects your information. A few to try are LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password.