How do I ensure my password is secure?

The more time you spend on the Internet, the more passwords you will be asked to create and use. The key to strong passwords lies in their length and unfamiliarity. Passwords with eight characters are harder to crack than passwords with four or six characters. Passwords that mix letters and numbers are even more difficult.

Rules of Thumb for Strong Passwords

1. Don't use a common word with which you can be identified in a password - a word such as your name or the names of family members. These are the kinds of password features that thieves and hackers first try, so don't make it easy for someone to break into your accounts.

2. Use upper and lower case letters if the system requesting a password can distinguish between them. It makes your passwords that much stronger because you now have, effectively, 52 letters to work with.

3. Use a different password for each site or service that requires one. Otherwise, a security flaw in, or an irresponsible operator of a favourite website could expose the password that you use to protect your NOCHEX account. The best rule is to use a unique, long, strong password for each site and purpose.

A final consideration: How do you keep track of all these strong passwords? Posting them on a sticky note on the side of your monitor is a profoundly bad idea because then they become public knowledge -- keep your list of passwords in a safe place away from your computer!

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