A strong password helps protect the information you keep on your accounts – from your banking details to your email to your favourite online shopping sites. You should have a different password for every online account – this means that if someone does manage to get your password, they won’t be able to access the rest of your online accounts. Along with a strong password, you should also use Two-Factor Authentication on every account you can.

Password vs passphrase

A password is a word or a series of letters, numbers and symbols such as ‘yourname123!’.

A passphrase is longer than a password and has spaces in between words such as ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’

A passphrase can also have symbols, and doesn’t need to be proper sentence. The main difference is that a passphrase is much longer and has spaces in between words.

So, why use a passphrase in place of a regular password?

  1. Passphrases are easier to remember than random symbols and letters
  2. Passwords can be easier to guess or crack by both human and robots
  3. Passphrases are much harder to crack than passwords

How long is a strong password?

Choose a password that is between 15 to 20 characters long. The longer your password is the more difficult it is for someone else to guess.

How do you select a strong password?

The stranger your password is the easier it is for you to remember! Some ideas to think about include:

  • An easy to remember acronym.
  • A combination of three or more unrelated words incorporating numbers.
  • Lyrics from a song you’ll easily remember.
  • A silly yet easy to remember phrase such as BananasPlayDiscoUnderTriangleSuns.
  • Using a combination of words from different languages if you’re multilingual.

What to avoid

Avoid using standard dictionary words or the name of a child, pet or sports team or something that will be easily guessed.

You should also avoid using the password storage options offered by web browser, as they are frequently targeted by hackers. Web browsers are targeted by hackers because if they can compromise the browser they can get access to the passwords you have stored in the browser.

Some of the most commonly used passwords

  1. Password
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678
  4. 1234
  5. qwerty

When should I use a password manager?

Sometimes you won’t have a choice about the length of the password you use as it will be determined by the system or programme you use. In this case a password manager may help you.

Password managers can generate and remember the passwords for you. Consider using a strong password manager like KeePass, KeePassX or LastPass.

How do I set a password on my device?

Android

For Android you can set a personal identification number (PIN) or an alpha-numeric password by following these instructions:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’
  2. Click ‘Security’
  3. Go to ‘Change Screen Lock’ (the phase will vary on each phone)
  4. Once you set your security option, decide on when you want the phone to lock itself.

iPhone

  1. Go to ‘Settings’
  2. Click ‘General’
  3. Select ‘Passcode Lock’
  4. Choose the timing for the lock screen

More information