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How to Choose Strong Passwords

Password Strength is Your First Line Of Defense

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The first line of defense in computer security is choosing a strong password that cannot be guessed or cracked easily by modern computer programs. This will not only keep your business' information safe from hackers, but it can also help protect your laptop in case it is stolen. Depending upon the limitations of your computer system, you may not be able to use all of the following characteristics of a strong password, but use as many as permitted.

1. Password At Least 12 Characters Long

The minimum length for a strong password is 12 characters; the longer the better. Instead of one word, use a combination of two or more word to form your password.

2. Mix Different Types of Characters

In most computer systems upper and lower case letters are not equal. In other words "password" is not the same as "PassWord". Use a mix of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and special characters (for example: {,.}%$@). The more you use, the stronger the password. There are a number of computer systems that don't allow special characters in passwords, but you can still get along with out them. Examples are: oPERation$1985, Techno@Geek2009, etc.

3. Avoid Common Words and Number Sequences

Do not use words that can be found in a dictionary or on your social networking page (e.g. Facebook, My Space, etc.). Avoid spouse names, pets, birthdays, street names, etc. because these can be easily guessed. Also do not make "12345" or "11111" part of your password.

4. Substitute Letters for Numbers (And Vise Versa)

To mix things up even further and create the strongest possible password, substitute letters for numbers and numbers for letters. For example, a "3" looks like a backwards "E"; a "5" or "$" looks like an "S". Other ones are: 4=A @=a 1=I o=0 (zero) Examples are: "Iceman" turns into "1c3m@n" "Coke-a-Cola" turns into "c0k3-@-co1@". Add a number, name or word that you can remember to the end of these and you have more than twelve characters.

5. Be Creative

Mix it up. Instead of using "About.com" in a password, reverse it into "moc.tuoba". Use abbreviations that make sense to you. For example, if your favorite song is "I Can't Get No Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones", turns into "IcGnSbTrS#1965" (notice: alternating upper and lower case letters with the year the song was released).

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