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Your first line of defense: a strong password!

photo: lock on keyboard

The AARP Bulletin recently posted a great story on creating a strong password. Why is this important?

Using their own ingenuity and automated programs that target thousands of computers simultaneously, hackers can quickly crack many simple passwords and break into online accounts. And once they sign in as you, they may change the password, locking you out of your own account.

The article has a good suggestion for coming up with a 12-digit password, the new recommended length:

Choose a sentence, phrase or song that you can easily remember, and add a few keystroke tweaks. [This password -- iH3k&tR#rS-c --], for example, is a hacker-resistant version of "I have 3 kids and they are really super-cool."

The Bulletin notes that this kind of password may be a bit complex, but it's worth considering adopting stronger passwords for your most essential passwords, especially any accounts dealing with money, email, or your personal information (e.g., Facebook).

Since adding symbols such as &, >, # or @ to your passwords definitely make them harder to crack, you may want to consider an alternative to the cryptic password above by stringing a meaningful phrase together. For example, like The Sound of Music? Consider something like: TheHills@AreAlive!

Microsoft has some great tips for creating strong passwords as well, and they even have a checker that you can use to test your password. My Sound of Music password rates a "strong" -- adding a few digits, perhaps the year the movie came out, turns that into a "best" rating -- but it's still fairly easy to remember.

The Bulletin has more suggestions about other old-standby ways to bolster password security, including:

  • - Say no when browsers offer to save your password.
  • - Use different passwords for different accounts.
  • - Check your password.

Do you have any suggestions for keeping your accounts hacker-free? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me at @BethAARP.

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