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How do you create a strong, secure password?

Wondering what a secure password is and how to protect yourself against cybercrime? Find out everything you need to know about creating secure passwords here.

4 min read

Passwords are a series of characters—numbers, letters, or special characters—that allow you to authenticate yourself when accessing an app or website. Given the massive amount of apps and websites many of us use on a daily basis, it’s common practice for people to use the same password for multiple accounts. 

However, as a security engineer at N26 explains, “passwords are like house keys. They must be unique so that no one can guess them and access your mailbox, Spotify account, or bank credentials.”

But how can you ensure that you’re creating a strong password, and how do you then remember it? This article will introduce you to a number of ways to create new passwords that are secure and easy to remember.

The importance of a secure password

These days, cybercrime is a serious problem—one that every individual and company faces. And while hackers rarely try to guess a single password to access your personal information, they do conduct so-called "dictionary attacks." These attacks are carried out at scale and can target thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of users at the same time. Through advanced automated systems, these criminals attempt to guess user IDs by trying many combinations of commonly-used emails and passwords.

If your password is simple or easy to guess, it’s much easier for hackers to find it in a password dictionary. Depending on the platform under attack, they can then log in to your accounts and access sensitive data. To see if your email address may have been affected by data leaks, check this website.

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What to consider when creating a new password

Now, you might wonder what exactly constitutes a secure password. While many service providers now impose rigid rules to ensure the strength of your password on their platform, here are some general things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid repetition or number sequences. If your password consists of repetitive elements or a series of numbers, hacker algorithms will find it easier to guess.
  • Don’t use words or numbers that relate to yourself—for example your address, or your date and place of birth. Cyber attackers can easily find this information and use it to explore combinations that make up your password. 
  • Avoid series that form a pattern on a keyboard. Hackers know that people tend to choose their passwords based on keyboard patterns.

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These tips and tricks can ensure your password is more secure:

  • Choose 4 random words and numbers, or special characters. Improve the security of your password by choosing a random sequence—for example, one consisting of four complete words and other characters.
  • Use unique passwords for all your accounts. If hackers guess one of your passwords, they’ll try to hack into your other accounts too. That’s why it’s important to choose individual passwords for each account.
  • Make it a habit to regularly create new passwords. This also helps to protect your data from hackers. If you have any doubt about whether a third party has access to your data, you should change your password straight away. If you think that a third party has been able to access your bank account, you should block your card right away and immediately contact your bank's customer support.

In summary, the longer your password is—and the more randomly chosen words, special characters and numbers it contains—the more secure it should be.

To discover examples of strong passwords, check out our YouTube video. 

How To Create a Strong Password That’s Easy To Remember | N26

Is it a good idea to use a password manager and generator?

Password generators

You can find many password generators online that randomly provide you with word combinations, numbers, and special characters to make up a secure password. Although these generators can be useful, the passwords they suggest are often impossible to remember.

Password managers

Password managers are super handy since you only need to remember one password. These tools encrypt all your various passwords and allow you to access them with just one password. The password used to access the manager is only known to you, and—if it’s sufficiently secure—it means that all of your passwords are safe and you don’t have to remember every single one.

On top of this, password managers usually offer an integrated password generator that will suggest a secure combination as you need. If you choose to use the one provided, it will then be saved by your password manager.

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Whether you want to use a password manager or rely on your exceptional memory—with our tips for secure passwords, you won’t make hackers’ lives easy. And, if you want to know more about keeping your accounts safe, read our guide to secure online banking!

What is cybercrime?

Cybercrime is the act of stealing and misusing sensitive data online. Scammers use different methods to guess passwords for email addresses, online shops, or bank accounts. Once they get hold of a correct password, they can access personal information—such as debit or credit card numbers—and misuse them for nefarious purposes.

Is my password secure?

Whether your password is secure depends on how easy it is to guess. Scammers can effortlessly access information like your location or date of birth. If your password is “Berlin1996” because you live in Berlin and were born in 1996, you’re making it quite easy for hackers to guess. A secure password shouldn’t contain any information that is directly connected to you.

How can I create a password that is both secure and easy to remember?

Use of a combination of four random words, numbers, and special characters. Make sure to not use obvious combinations of numbers or personal information.

Should I use password generators?

Password generators are great tools to create secure passwords. However, these passwords consist of numerous individual letters, numbers, and special characters—and are therefore difficult to learn by heart. That’s why automatically generated passwords aren’t the best choice for accounts you often use.

Are password managers secure?

Password managers are quite practical because you only need to remember one password in order to access all the others. Password managers are encrypted and often save information on different servers in order to protect them from hackers. For increased security, your master password should be very hard to guess.

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