How to Create a Strong Password (Tips from a Certified Fraud Examiner)
The risk of cyberattacks is a daily reality for individuals and businesses alike. Even worse, the threats are continually evolving, becoming faster and more sophisticated as each day goes by.
More than ever, it’s critical to be educated about the different methods today’s hackers employ and understand the measures you can take to protect your practice and personal data.
The truth is, a determined hacker who takes enough time can break into almost anyone or any company’s data. Following these four simple defenses can help protect you from the likelihood of being hacked… This text opens a new tab to a webinar on hacking… (and make you far less vulnerable to identity theft).
- Create a strong password
- Watch what you click
- Anti-virus software
- Beware of social engineering tricks
How to create a strong password
There are several simple yet effective steps to take when creating passwords.
First of all, you should password protect every device you own that can access the Internet.
Don’t use passwords that hackers or a bot might easily guess. For example:
- Your kids’ names
- Your dog’s name
- Your birth date
- House number
- Or anything that could be filled-in-the-blank based on your Facebook posts
You should never use the same passwords on multiple web sites. A mix of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and special characters is highly recommended.
Strong password ideas and examples
Now I’m sure you’re thinking, “How am I supposed to do this and be expected to remember the passwords?” Here are some tips for secure passwords you can easily remember.
- Deliberate misspellings: “YockyTop”, from when your baby couldn’t say, “Rocky Top”
- Swapping numbers for letters: “3y3” instead of “eye” or “h0u5e” instead of “house”
- Two or more words that don’t normally go together: Example: “PollutedEggs”
- Pick a favorite song or easy to remember sentence: “Home, home on the range, Where the deer and the antelope play!” and then create a strong password from the first letter of each word in the first line of the song: “HhotrWtdatap”
- Create a password formula: Such as a made-up prefix + site name (1st letter cap) + common special character. Let’s say you have online accounts for Gmail, Bank of America, PayPal, and American Express. You could create your own prefix: 23×5, and a special character: #. Your web site passwords would be: 23x5Gmail#, 23x5Bofa#, 23x5Paypal#, 23x5Amex#
Don’t share your formula with anyone you don’t want to know your passwords. Also, it’s recommended to change your password formula about once a year.
Some of you may use password vaults. These apps provide users with the ability to use a single master password for accessing a number of different passwords used for different websites or services.
They are very handy for less critical web sites such as Facebook, student loan accounts, online magazines, forums, etc.
Use an easy-to-remember, hard-to-guess password and change it every three months. Password vaults are NOT recommended for critical accounts like bank accounts.
As a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), I know how important it is for my fellow dental office managers to help reduce your practice’s risk from potential hackers.
Meet the Author
Luci Berardi is a Fellow of the American Association of Dental Office Management (FAADOM). She is known for providing dental office manager education to help make your dental practice stronger.