Money Smarts Blog

Protect yourself online: tips for stronger passwords

Apr 27, 2023 || By Dennis Busch, Information Security Director

post-it notes with passwords

We live in a society where we use technology for just about everything. Already today, you’ve probably used your phone or other electronic device to do basic activities like scrolling through social media, checking your email, streaming your favorite TV show or even scheduling a curbside pickup, right?

Although technology makes our lives infinitely more convenient, it also makes us easier targets for potential hackers. Keep yourself (and your money) safer online with our top five tips on creating stronger passwords.

DO choose unique passwords for ALL sites

Nearly every app and website you visit requires a password. Before choosing something easy to remember (but easy to hack) like “password123,” listen to the advice of cybersecurity experts everywhere who recommend different passwords for every. single. account. Consider using a password vault to help you store, generate, and manage all this sensitive information.

DON’T choose a password that’s easy to guess

Birthdays, phone numbers, pet names, addresses — this kind of information is way too easy to find. Sure, it’s easy for you to remember, but that means it’s also easy for a cybercriminal to crack. Stay away from any personally-identifying information and be sure to include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

DO ramp up your security

Always enable multifactor authentication when it’s available, especially for accounts that involve sensitive information, like financial transactions. Using more than one method of verifying your identity makes it that much harder for hackers to break in and steal your information.

DO get creative

Choose a memorable phrase and only use consonants, use phonetic replacements like “ph” instead of “f” or use deliberate misspellings and odd characters like “gr8” instead of “great.” The more creative you can get, the more secure your password will be.

DON’T take or share quizzes on social media and be wary of playing games

Although not directly tied to password security, this tip definitely bears mentioning. Taking a seemingly harmless quiz, like matching your personality with your favorite TV character, can give scammers access to all kinds of personal information. It’s best to be cautious of these popular distractions and be sure to adjust your privacy settings to be stricter about the information you share.

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