1. Create strong passwords yourself:
To create a strong password you should:
• Use at least 8 characters, preferably 8–20. The longer the password, the stronger it is.
• Include special characters such as ! @ # $ % ^ &
• Use a mix of capital and lowercase letters.
• NOT include sequences or repeated characters, such as: 12345678, 222222, abcdefg, or other sets derived from your keyboard layout.
• NOT include any personal information such as your name, birthday, hometown, etc. Avoid information that someone might know or could easily find simply by looking you up online.
• Use a unique password for each online account you have.
Methods for creating a strong password that you can remember:
• Substitute numbers and special characters for certain letters. For example, turn "MyStrongPassword" into "My$tr0ngP@$$w0rd"
• Use an acronym from a phrase as a base (i.e. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" would create "duoaywhtduo"), then add numbers, special characters and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters.
• Although you shouldn't use a linear sequence from your keyboard layout (i.e. 123456), if you are having trouble thinking of passwords to remember, you can pick a letter, then type in a counter-clockwise circle around the letter (i.e. using the letter g would result in "ytrfvbnh"). Add some numbers and special characters to make it even stronger.
Other security tips:
• Make your account's security/password recovery questions unguessable.
• Use two-step verification where available. For example, accounts on sites such as Google and Facebook offer a code sent via text to your phone that you use in place of your password when logging in on a new computer or mobile device. This is extremely important for your email and Facebook accounts because they are hubs full of information about you, and certainly benefit from added security.
• When you are using a public computer, log out of all accounts and clear the cache and history once you are done.
• For added security, turn on the password feature for your mobile device. Mobile devices like iPhones and iPads save passwords for apps in your device's settings so that when you open an app, it's ready to use. Although this is convenient, it's also a security risk that leaves your phone vulnerable if it is stolen.
If you are unsure if your password is strong enough, you can test it at Password Meter or How Secure Is My Password?
How often should you change your passwords?
are conflicting reports on how often you should change your passwords,
and it's debatable that changing your passwords frequently does anything
to truly increase security. For more information, check out this in-depth article from NBC News Technology on when to change your passwords, and what kinds of sites and situations where it is actually beneficial to do so.