Skip To Main Content

Tips for using passphrases to strengthen your passwords.

Passwords play a crucial role in keeping your accounts secure. Unfortunately, cybercriminals continue to develop more advanced tactics for guessing them, like artificial intelligence and automation. Previously, passwords that were 6–8 characters long were thought to be strong enough. Today, law enforcement, cryptologists and cybersecurity leaders recommend using longer and more complex passwords to secure your accounts. Passphrases, which are at least 12 characters long, are an excellent tool for strengthening your passwords. Here are some tips for making your passwords more complex and your accounts more secure.

How to use passphrases

Passphrases are more secure because of their length and complexity, which make them harder to guess. A passphrase is at least 12 characters long and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

Here are the steps to creating a passphrase:

  1. Put four random words together or choose a unique phrase that is easy to remember. Try to think of something unexpected and not a phrase with a personal connection to you that someone could research. (Hackers can often gather information from your social media activity.) For instance, if you own a dog grooming business, don’t use phrases related to dogs. Avoid including personally identifiable information like your birthday or hometown as well.

    For example, let’s say you love red velvet cake on your birthday. You might start with the phrase redvelvetbdaycake. You could also pick four random words, like tomatoscreenmugpocket.

  2. Mix in different letter cases and swap numbers and special characters for letters. For instance, redvelvetbdaycake could become R3dVe!v3TBd@Yc@K3. The random phrase tomatoscreenmugpocket could become T0m@to$cr33nMUGp0ck3t.

  3. Save your password in a secure place.

Create unique passwords for each login

Though you may be tempted, don’t use the same passphrase for all your passwords. If a cybercriminal were to hack one password, they could use it to access the rest of your accounts as well. Avoid using a variation of one passphrase, too. Once a password is guessed, hackers might try variations to unlock your other accounts. Make sure to create a unique passphrase for each of your accounts.

Use a password manager to keep passwords organized

Gone are the days when you could memorize all your passwords. Passwords need to be sufficiently complex, and you have better things to do than memorize all the special characters in your passwords. You may want to write them on a piece of paper or in a document on your computer, but there are more secure options available.

A digital passphrase manager encrypts and stores your account IDs and passwords to make it easier to track your passwords in a secure, organized way. Your device may have a password manager built in that you can use. Commerce Bank also offers a password manager with triple encryption as part of our Commerce ID Recover service.

Opt for multi-factor authentication

For some of your accounts, you may be able to set up multi-factor authentication (MFA). Also known as two-factor authentication, MFA requires you to verify your identity to log in. For instance, you can set it up so that you receive a text or a phone call with a verification code. You would then need to enter that verification code to log in to your account. Some MFAs also allow you to use a fingerprint scanner to access your account.

Last tip: Avoid free Wi-Fi networks

Coffee shops, airports and other public places often offer free, public Wi-Fi. These Wi-Fi networks can make you vulnerable to hacking. It’s a good idea to avoid connecting to free, public Wi-Fi. Instead, you could use a virtual private network, also known as a VPN. A VPN is relatively easy to set up, and it encrypts your personal data while you’re on the internet. Learn more about VPNs here.

Take steps today to protect yourself

Rewriting your passwords may seem daunting. By taking steps now, you can start to improve the security of your accounts and your identity. The good news is, there are tools available to help you manage your passwords and monitor your accounts. Check out the identity theft services available at Commerce Bank.

Also See: