With a new year (and new decade!) beginning, it’s a good time to take stock of your passwords. We all have a lot of passwords and here at Stimulus Technologies we’re always emphasizing best practices for keeping your information safe and secure. One of the steps to maintaining security is to take stock of your passwords. If you haven’t changed your passwords in a while, or you’re using the same password for multiple logins, now is a great time to make an update.

Just what is a secure password anyway? Long gone are the days when we could just think of something familiar to us and use it for a password. Now we need something that contains special characters, numbers, and upper- and lower-case letters. A key element to secure passwords is that they should be random. Simply substituting a special character or number in place of a letter in a common word – like Pas$W0rD! is easy for hackers to figure out. Maybe you wouldn’t do something as obvious modifying the word password, but using anything that’s identifiable to you – birthdate, pets names, names of family members, city, etc. is not a good idea.

You can easily manage passwords using a password manager like LastPass. Most password managers have a password generator that allows you to set the parameters for the minimum required number of characters and special characters and numbers needed. Passwords that are at least 12 characters are more secure.

Using a passphrase may also add more security, especially if you must memorize the password rather than have it stored in a password keeper. Passphrases are a string of four or five words put together to form a password. The passphrase can also contain numbers and special characters. Again, the words should be random and not identifiable to you or words that commonly go together like “a dime a dozen.” They should be easy for you to remember, but hard for anyone else to guess. An example of a passphrase is: Marry*gl0ves!jurorswoop.

Rules of thumb for secure logins are: Be sure to create a different password, or passphrase, for each account you have a login for. Never share your passwords with anyone or save them to your browser. Enable multi-factor authentication (where you use an authenticator app or receive a text, email, notification for each login attempt) where possible.

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