News Article

How to create a strong password

Published 7 January 2017 by

We all know the familiar feeling of trying to log into an online account only to forget our password. It's no wonder this is such a common problem when we spend so much of our lives online – from banking to social media.

To make life easier, it can be tempting to choose a simple password or one you've used for multiple accounts. But what's to stop a hacker from figuring out your password if you choose to do so? It's time to make sure you have a strong password and here are a few techniques on how to create one.

The reason why

Before we take you through the different ways you can create a robust password, we're going to take you through why this is so important.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that almost six million fraud and cyber crimes were committed last year. As a result of this, the Government has launched a cyber security campaign Cyber Aware. It urges people and businesses to #ThinkRandom when creating strong passwords.

Three random words

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recommend using three random words to create a strong password. It doesn't matter where these words come from – you can take inspiration from any part of your life.

For example, you might choose the following combination: the last thing you ate, the colour of your child's eyes and the name of your first friend. Put these words together e.g. ChipsBrownBen and you're on your way to a strong password.

Add numbers and symbols to make this even harder to decipher. Your end result could look something like this: 02ChipsBrownBen! 

Sing a song

If you think you'll have trouble remembering a random mix of letters and number, you could try using an acronym of an easy-to-remember song lyric. For example, the popular song My Heart Will Go On becomes MHWGO. You can even change the case of some of the letters.

There's usually a minimum character limit of eight on passwords, so add a memorable number and a symbol. Put all of this together and you'll get something like this: MhWgo"92

Just remember not to start singing the song you choose every time you log into your account – as you might alert fraudsters, particularly if you're using a Wi-Fi hotspot!

Avoid common passwords

You should stay away from common words or phrases altogether. SplashData releases the most popular stolen passwords each year and below are the top 5 most popular passwords of 2015.

1.  123456

2.  password

3.  12345678

4.  qwerty

5.  12345

As you can see, simple passwords that don't need much imagination are the easiest to guess – so stay away from these. 

Never use the same password twice

If a hacker is able to guess your password, they often try to test it out on other online services. You can stop a fraudster from getting access to multiple accounts by never using the same password twice.

Otherwise using the same password for multiple accounts could cost you.

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