What are the best practices for creating strong passwords?

Creating strong passwords is essential for protecting your online accounts from unauthorized access. Here are some technical best practices for creating strong passwords:

  1. Length: Longer passwords are generally more secure. Aim for a minimum of 12 characters, and consider going even longer if the system allows.
  2. Complexity: Use a mix of character types, including uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (such as !, @, #, $, %, ^, &, *).
  3. Avoid Common Words: Avoid using easily guessable information, such as common words, phrases, or patterns. This includes avoiding personal information like names, birthdays, or easily discoverable details.
  4. Avoid Dictionary Words: Don't use whole words found in dictionaries, as these are susceptible to dictionary attacks.
  5. Unique Passwords: Use a unique password for each account. Reusing passwords across multiple accounts increases the risk of a security breach if one account is compromised.
  6. Passphrases: Consider using a passphrase, which is a sequence of random words or a sentence. Passphrases can be easier to remember while still providing strong security.
  7. Avoid Predictable Patterns: Avoid using predictable patterns such as "123456," "password," or keyboard patterns like "qwerty." These are commonly targeted by attackers.
  8. Change Regularly: While it's debatable whether frequent password changes are necessary, it's still a good practice to change your passwords periodically, especially if you suspect any compromise.
  9. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security, requiring both a password and a secondary form of authentication.
  10. Password Managers: Consider using a reputable password manager. Password managers generate and store complex passwords for you, so you don't have to remember them all. They also help prevent the use of weak or duplicate passwords.
  11. Avoid Personal Information: Don't use easily obtainable information about yourself, such as your username, real name, or the name of the website or service.
  12. Avoid Common Passwords: Steer clear of passwords listed in common password dictionaries. Hackers often use these dictionaries to conduct brute force or dictionary attacks.
  13. Check for Breaches: Regularly check if your passwords have been compromised in data breaches using tools like Have I Been Pwned. If your password has been exposed, change it immediately.