Strong Passwords - Add a Meaningful Symbol to Increase Password Strength

by Jennifer A. Thieme

In today’s online world, having a strong password is a must. However, the problem with strong passwords is that they can be difficult to remember. Altering the passwords you currently use by adding a meaningful symbol is one step toward making them difficult for Internet thieves to crack. Here is a list of symbols, some suggested uses, and some examples of how to incorporate them into your passwords:

! excitement, strong emotion
@ the letter A, the word “at”
# number, pound, tic-tac-toe
$ money, value, the letter S
% a part of something
^ raised eyebrow, upside down V
& the word “and”, this and that, twins
( the letter c, the moon
) the moon; anything lunar; crazy
* sunny, bright, starry
+ adding one thing to another
= balance, equanimity, this equals that
< this is less than that, this is younger than that
> this is greater than that, this is older than that
? unknown, variable, questionable
~ water, wind

Here are three examples. When you see the symbol in them, reference the above list to see how it is used.

First example:
1. Your 1st born daughter’s initials are JLM
2. She was born in 1987
3. She has a sunny and bright disposition
Potential password: *1stJ87lm

Second example:
1. You are a twin
2. Your initials are ABO
3. Your twin’s initials are STO
4. The last two digits of your Social Security Number are: 58
Potential password: Abo58&Sto;

Third example:
1. Your oldest child’s initials are MWP
2. Your next oldest child’s initials are SEP
3. They were born in 1981 and 1983, respectively
Potential password: Mwp81>83Sep

Here are six more tips for strong passwords:

  • Spell letters phonetically: the initials ABO can become AyBeeOh
  • Use both upper and lower case letters
  • Use at least one number
  • Do not begin or end the password with a number
  • Make the password at least eight characters
  • Practice your new password in your word processor; get it to flow smoothly off your fingers

I strongly suggest that you stop everything, go, right now, and change your banking and any financially sensitive passwords. Other types of passwords can wait. Do it now, before you forget.

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