How to choose a strong password

A day barely seems to pass without a company admitting its security measures have been breached by hackers, who are now on the loose with your personal details.

Choosing a password can be a dirty job

It’s worrying enough to find out your name, address and credit card details may have fallen in to the wrong hands, but a list of usernames and passwords can be even more dangerous.

A recent survey by Skrill found that more than half of people use the same password for everything – are you one of them? If so, once hackers have got hold of your security details from one site, they could try them elsewhere. There’s not much fun to be had having your email, bank and credit card accounts hacked.

A practical problem

Making up a different password for each website you use is obviously the most secure solution, but it comes with practical problems. If you’re anything like me and find it difficult to remember where you’ve actually left your laptop, let alone what combination of keys gets into your bank account, then you could be in trouble.

Writing passwords down is one solution, but if your secret hiding place is discovered by a mischievous individual then you are in real trouble.

So you’ll need to find a balance between creating a password so complex it could not be guessed and one that you can actually type into your keyboard...

Five ways to make a strong password

1. Substitute symbols for letters

The easiest way to toughen up your password is by swapping letters for symbols or numbers. If cool musicians can put $ instead of S then so can you. Why not try £ instead of E, ! in place of I and & where you used A?

peasplease becomes p£&$pl£&$£

2. Move up a row

If your password has become something like an old friend to you, then you’ll be relieved to hear you don’t have to part with it completely. Why not use the keys on the row above or below your beloved password on your keyboard to mix it up a bit.

Dixonsintheknow becomes E9d0je9j6y3ih92

3. Use your mobile keypad

If you find it difficult to work numbers into your password then you can always look to your mobile phone for hints. Look at the letters under the numbers on the alphanumeric keypad on your mobile phone and then substitute part of your password for those numbers.

AppleiPad becomes 27753iPad

4. Work in the website

Make a decent password using the previous tips, then add something about the website you are using into the password to make it unique to that site. You might add a ‘B’ on the end for your bank, or add the third letter of each site’s name to the middle of your password.

secretword becomes secretDword

5. The first letter approach

Choose a well known phrase or proverb and pick the first letters out of it to make a password. At a glance it might look like a random assortment of letters, but it’s something you can easily recall. You can even add capital letters, numbers and symbols to make your password really tough to crack.

Just who is the five o’clock hero? becomes Jwit5o’ch?

Have you got any tips for making a tough password? Comment below or tweet @DixonsinTheKnow