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Just about anything your pc or smartphone lets you do nowadays requires a password: checking your mails, (un)locking your phone, logging in on social media, checking your files in the cloud, and so on.
The basics are very straightforward (although often forgotten): do not choose a password that is too obvious. So not the names of your children, nor that of your pet. No birth dates or, even worse, 1234. Even using real words that have no immediate connection to you (“broomstick”, “rainshower”, …) is not an option, because hackers use lists with thousands and thousands of keywords to try and get access to systems.
It’s better to mix and match upper and lower case letters, spaces, underscores and digits. And don’t hesitate to combine unrelated words, misspell them or replace letters with digits. “Broomstick”, for instance, could become “bR00mst!ck”. Just make sure the password you select is sufficiently long. The longer the word, the harder it is to hack.
Another trick is to come up with a short phrase that is easy to remember, and then just use the first letters of every word. So “My dad was born in Brighton on 14th of March” would become “MdwbiBo1403”.
Of course, you can substitute as many letters with digits as you like, or vice versa.
The main issue with these passwords is that you’ll have a tendency to use the same password for different tools or web sites. And that’s a very bad idea. Should a hacker get into one of these sites, your whole digital life will be open to him. So, ideally, you should get a strong password for every site you visit. But remembering all of those will be a struggle.
Luckily there is software available that can help, so called password managers. These tools (like LastPass, Keepass, Dashlane, 1Password, Roboform, etc.) help you generate and store complex passwords for every site you visit, so you can logon with one simple click afterwards. Most of these programs can be used on your smartphone as well as one your computers and they often create a kind of digital vault where you can store other data, such as addresses and credit card numbers. These details are often automatically pre-filled when, for instance, you buy something on the internet.
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