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How to make a strong password.

Using short, simple passwords or the same password for all of your online accounts puts you at a higher risk of a security breach or identity theft. To increase your protection, Geek Squad suggests using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.

Some sites have their own specific character requirements. Here are some tips to help you create a password that's less likely to be cracked.

Use a variation of characters.

  • Use at least one uppercase letter
  • Use at least one lowercase letter
  • Use a number
  • Use a symbol from this set: ! @ $ % %5E & * ( ) - _ = + [ ] ; : ' " , < .> / ?
  • Use at least six characters
  • Don't use repeating characters
  • Don't use spaces

Don't make it easy to guess.

  • Don't use a common, dictionary word — not even spelled backwards
  • Don't use your name, a relative's name, a close friend's name, or a pet's name
  • Don't use personal numbers, including your driver's license, license plate, social security, phone number, or birthday
  • Do change your passwords monthly; if you need to write them down, put them in a safe place and don't include the URL
  • Do use a password that's at least 8 characters long

Use a personal algorithm.

Many people use the same password for all of their accounts, which can be a problem. If your e-mail gets hacked, the criminal may also gain access to your bank account if it uses the same password. Creating a personal password algorithm is a great way to have different passwords for different sites that will be easy to remember. An algorithm is a set of rules that can be applied the same way to different sites, and will result in a different password for each. For example, your algorithm could start with your dog's name using a special character (rex=r#x). Then, you could add the second and third letters of the website name in capital letters, and your favorite number (13). If you were creating a password for Paypal using this algorithm, your password would be r#xAY13. Using the same set of rules, your password for Google would be r#xOO13.

Using a personal algorithm lets you create strong passwords without having to memorize a lot of different complicated passwords. Once you have your personal algorithm, you can use it to remember what your passwords are for different sites and accounts.

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