With recent reports of important Twitter accounts being hacked into (like the Associated Press Tweeting about explosions at the White House) and the regular emails we receive of potential data breaches from social and retail sites, now is a good time to re-evaluate your passwords for online accounts. While we've all heard the need to use a unique password for every site and to avoid using easily found content (like your pet's name that is all over your Facebook page), it may be even more important to go above and beyond what we normally do for our passwords.
While it used to be a good idea to use a full phrase for your password, apparently researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed an algorithm that can work out passwords if they use proper grammar. So, instead of a full sentence like "turnoutthelight," you'll want to mix things up if you want to maintain a hack-free password. Try putting together words that make gibberish, but could be easily memorable to you. For instance, "blueSaturdaybanannaJefferson" might combine some words that are impactful to you and some words that serve as filler.
Another good idea is to create a sentence that's silly, and create a mnemonic device out of it. So, using a sentence like "Florida restaurants make tasty dishes every 20 seconds in Gainesville," you would take the first letter of each word, and the password would become "Frmtde20siG." You not only use numbers, but also upper- and lowercase letters. As long as the sentence is easy for you to remember, it's a great option to make your password hard to crack. Plus, the more bizarre your mnemonic, the better you'll remember.
If all else fails, you can try a password generator. All of these great password generators can be used to provide you maximum protection while leaving the hard work to the websites.
Have you ever had a password be hacked? Share your experiences in the comments below!
If you're looking for other ways to keep your money safe, check out our other article: "Staying Safe: Protecting Yourself from Smishing."