How to choose a secure password

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A password (also called a passphrase, passcode or PIN) is used to prevent someone from accessing or using your personal information. Having a solid password is your first line of defense, and perhaps the most important security control you have. A poorly chosen, easy-to-guess password could mean that your sensitive personal information is compromised.

So how do you create a secure password?

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Passwords should be a minimum of eight characters.
  • Passwords should be comprised of a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters (punctuation marks and symbols).
  • Passwords should not be comprised of, or otherwise use, words that can be found in a dictionary.
  • Passwords should not be comprised of an obvious keyboard sequence (e.g., qwerty, 12345).
  • Passwords should not include "guessable" data such as personal information about yourself, your spouse, your pet, your children, birthdays, addresses, phone numbers, locations, etc.

An example of a sound password that is easy to remember is a passphrase. This allows you to create something you will remember, but adds the necessary complexity to be secure. By replacing letters with similar-looking symbols or numbers, an easy-to-remember phrase like CreditUnionsAreGreat becomes Cr3d!tUn!0n$@r3Gr3@t.

Of course, it doesn't matter how carefully you choose a password if you aren't equally diligent about keeping it protected and secure. Use these guidelines to secure your passwords:

  • Do not disclose your passwords to anyone.
  • Do not write down your passwords or leave them unsecured.
  • Do not check the "save password" box when signing in to online accounts or applications.
  • Do not use the same password for different systems and/or accounts.
  • Never send your passwords via email or provide a password over the phone.
  • Consider using a password manager app. There are many so research them carefully to find one you’re comfortable with and that will best meet your needs.

By using these tips, you should feel confident that your passwords are secure.

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