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10 Important Rules for Creating Strong Passwords

October 15, 2021

Protect Yourself, Loved Ones, And Colleagues From Cybercrime

Creating strong passwords and passphrases is the number-one priority in keeping your online world safe and secure. It is your first line of defense. Here are 10 important rules and 4 best practices to keep in mind so you can protect your subscriptions, social media profiles, financial accounts, and more, from someone trying to get in.

Middle aged man using tablet at home.

10 Rules for Creating Strong Passwords

  1. Don’t share your passwords with anyone - even if your workplace tech support is asking for it.

  2. Don’t use simple dictionary words, pet’s names, family names, birthday dates, or any identifying numbers like your social security number.

  3. Use a password that is at least 8 characters long. Even a password this length can easily be cracked. Using a password up to 20 characters is even more secure.

  4. It can be more secure to use what’s called a “passphrase”. For example: Betty was smoking tires and playing tuna fish.

  5. Use a different password for each website access. It’s smart to use unique words and numbers for each.

  6. Change your passwords for sensitive websites like online banking, mobile banking, online insurance access, or online tax access every 60 to 90 days. Avoid using easy-to-guess patterns when changing your passwords. For example: Pitabread01; Pitabread02; Pitabread03.

  7. If you think your password may have been compromised, change it immediately and check other usernames and passwords for issues. It’s important to consider changing passwords for your sensitive websites like online banking or mobile banking first.

  8. Make sure your answers to your security questions are not predictable. It’s smart to be creative when answering these questions. It’s easier for someone to find out your mother’s maiden name or place of birth than it is to guess what your dream job was as a child. Add another level of security by misspelling your answers or by adding special characters.

  9. Use the extra security features offered by websites for an added layer of authentication. For example: A website may ask you to confirm a security code received via text, email, or phone call. A website may also use a system like Google Authenticator where a new 6-digit code is created every minute for added security.

  10. Consider using a password manager software. This can make updating your passwords easier and it helps to keep them consistently unique. For example:


A good alternative to using a strong password is creating a passphrase. A passphrase is like a password, but longer. It is a string of words instead of just one. The longer a passphrase is, the more likely you are to keep someone from gaining access to your information.

4 Best Practices for Using a Passphrase

  1. When considering a passphrase, use 5 or more words that you can easily remember and separate each word with a special character. For example: yo+ho+a+pirates+life+for+me.

  2. If you don’t have a total of 5 words in your phrase, be sure to use at least 25 characters that will include at least one special symbol.

  3. Change your passphrase every 60 to 90 days. Avoid using the same phrase each time you update.

  4. It’s recommended that you do not use popular phrases like lyrics to songs, common quotes, or any group of words that could be easily guessed by someone who knows you.

Here’s a quick article from Banzai to explain more about Cybersecurity. You can also visit our website for the most recent Scam Alerts and to learn additional ways to protect your identity. If you feel you may be a target of a scam or would like more information about how to better protect your identity, please contact First Source at 315-735-8571 to report any activity that might seem suspicious to our Member Care Center.

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