How to Create a Secure Password

When I talk about transliteracy I often use this stat

It would take a hacker 5.15 minutes to hack your 6 character all lower case password.  Add in numbers, symbols and capital letters and it goes up to 8.51 days

from a Lifehacker article, How I’d Hack Your Weak Passwords, as an example of import skills we aren’t being taught. Its simple its basic and so very important.  I see audience members quickly writing this down and often am asked for more information.  The time has come for a post.

A secure password should have:

  • a minimum of 8 characters
  • lower case
  • upper case
  • number(s)
  • symbol(s)


Randomly substitute symbols and numbers into your password.

  • Chattahoochee becomes Ch@tt@h00ch33

Use a phrase.

  • Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue in 1492 becomes C$tob1492

Have more than one password.

I’m not going to tell you to use a different one everywhere, but have several and use the really complex ones on your bank account or retirement fund and by really complex I mean more complex than my examples

Change your passwords every six months.

I recommend changing them when you change the batteries in your smoke detectors.

Do NOT use any of the following for a password

  1. Your partner, child or pet’s name, possibly followed by a 0 or 1 (because they’re always making you use a number, aren’t they?)
  2. The last 4 digits of your social security number.
  3. 123 or 1234 or 123456.
  4. “password”
  5. Your city, or college, football team name.
  6. Date of birth – yours, your partner’s or your child’s.
  7. “god”
  8. “letmein”
  9. “money”
  10. “love”

More Tips

15 thoughts on “How to Create a Secure Password

    1. Michael you’re right I do cycle through the same passwords over and over at work because we have to change them every 90 days. But I do change my personal ones every 6 months to something new and complex. I think it depends on your level of knowledge of security and general “techiness”. I imagine other techies change theirs frequently too.


  1. My fave tip for creating secure passwords is to use maths – it makes it really easy to create memorable combinations of numbers, letter and symbols, eg:





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