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Complex Password Tips

A complex password is your front line of defense against your work or personal accounts being compromised by a cyber intrusion. The stronger this front line is the less likely you are of becoming a victim of a cyber-attack. Per the FBI’s website the threat of cyber-attacks is incredibly serious and growing. Cyber intrusions are also becoming more commonplace, more dangerous, and more sophisticated.  To visit the FBI’s website and read more about this click here.

Whether you are creating a password for a work related account or a personal account, complexity is key. Too often we avoid complex passwords for fear that we will forget them. And worse yet if we do have a complex password we write it down on a sticky note and leave it on our desk or in a drawer where it can be easily discovered. In an effort to help overcome this fear and keep data safe, I’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts as well as some tips.


  1. Choose a password that is 8 characters in length
  2. Choose a password that includes both upper and lower case
  3. Choose a password that includes numbers
  4. Choose a password that includes special characters i.e. !@#$%^&*()_+
  5. Change your password as required by the password policy


  1. Do not use your first name
  2. Do not use your last name
  3. Do not use your birthday or age
  4. Do not use your address
  5. Do not use any information about yourself which could be easily found by searching Google
  6. Do not write your password down. If you need to write it down use a password protect excel spreadsheet. Click here for details on this.

Password Tips:

Tip 1. Come up with a password phrase and make minor changes to it in order to keep it alive.
Example: Take the phrase, “Help my computer is broke” and create a complex password by doing the following…”H3lpComputeri$broke”.

The next time it needs to be changed, just add a 1 to the end of the phrase. Continue this pattern each subsequent time with the next number in the sequence.
Example: H3lpComputeri$broke1, H3lpComputeri$broke2, H3lpComputeri$broke3

Tip 2. Use a $ instead of an s; Use a 3 instead of an e; Use a 0 instead of an o; Use a @ instead of an a; Use a # instead of lbs.

Tip 3. Math phrases make great passwords. Example: Ten%/2=Five%, $3+$4=$Seven, or Pie=~3.14

Tip 4. Let’s say you have a several accounts, Google Email account, Dropbox account, and a Facebook account. Taking the password from the example above make minor changes to it so that it ‘fits’ the account it is being used to secure. Example: H3lpGooglei$broke, H3lpDropBoxi$broke, or H3lpFaceBooki$broke

There are several reasons why this is beneficial. It will make your password different for each account so that if one password is compromised the others are less likely to follow suit. It provides a template that can be used repeatedly for all accounts. It also gives you a memory aid so that you can easily remember which password you used for Gmail, DropBox, or Facebook.

Remember a complex password is your best line of defense.  Click here to access a tool that will tell you how complex your password really is based on the amount of time it would take to crack it. Try it out!

Beringer Associates is always here to provide expert knowledge in topics like these. Please contact us with any questions you may have.

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