The first step in securing your password is to ensure that the password itself is as strong as possible. Many online platforms now enforce strong passwords, but here are some general guidelines to create passwords that will stand up very well against a brute force attack. BetterBuys.com suggests that passwords constructed according to the suggestions below only using characters in the ranges of A-Z and 0-9 will take 1,658 years to crack. Introduce special characters, and the value increases to 85,837 years.
Use 10 characters or more. The longer the better.
Include a combination of lowercase letters, uppercase letters, and numbers. As allowed, also include symbols and spaces.
Make your password a meaningful phrase or sentence that you will remember.
Avoid repeating characters, keyboard patterns, consecutive number strings, words that appear in a dictionary, and words that could be easily associated with you (e.g., family or pet names or significant dates).
You can also use password generators to create secure passwords for you. Symantec Norton offers an online generator, LastPass also offers an online application, and Dashlane has a similar online generator. There are many other online password generators available, as well as apps for your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Once you have a password, protect its effectiveness with two-factor protection whenever possible. Two-factor authentication requires a second personally-generated action along with the password. Baylor uses Duo two-factor protection on all of its single sign-on platforms. Many other entities now make two-factor authentication available, but do not require it. Find out if two-factor authentication is available and use it wherever possible.
Remembering your secure password is the next challenge. Norton, LastPass and Dashlane also have apps that can help you remember and manage your passwords. Each solution is free (to a point) and offers a platform to store and quickly recall passwords.
To further protect your passwords, heed each of the following warnings:
Never write your password down and put it somewhere for "safe keeping."
Do not store your passwords in a Word or text document.
- Do not share your password with anyone. In fact, it is against Baylor's policies to do so. This includes sharing your password with family, friends, significant others, computer support people, and bosses.
- Be wary about saving your password when prompted by your browser or other programs.
- Change your passwords at least once per year.
- Never send your password in clear text (that is, by email or SMS). If you are asked to send you password to someone in an official email, do not do it! It is likely an instance of phishing.