Passwords. They're pretty important, hey? They’re all that stands between you and unfettered access to your digital life.
Sure, you might not think anyone wants to read your emails, watch movies using your Netflix, or steal from your bank balance, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take precautions. By themselves, these things might not worry you, but when put together, they can result in identify crime, for example. Just last year, one in four Australians were a victim of identity theft.
While a good password isn't the be all and end all, it's an important step when it comes to online security.
How to make a strong password
A strong password should be at least twelve characters in length; feature uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols; and avoid the use of common words.
A good approach is finding the acronym for a long phrase that can be easily remembered.
For example, if the phrase was your favourite Snoop Dogg lyric - "rolling down the street, smoking endo, sipping on gin and juice" - "rdtssesogaj" would be a good basis for a password.
You could then swap the "a" for a "4", add a few capital letters, and a symbol or two to the end. In this case, "RdtsSeSog4j^*" would be your final password.
What not to do when creating a password
Don't make your password one word. Don't just make it a string of numbers. While this might seem obviously, 2015's list of most popular - or "worst" - passwords include "123456", "password", "12345678", "qwerty", and "12345" as the top five worst offenders. If your password looks anything like this, change it.
Hacking tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and are better at cracking passwords that might not seem insecure. For example, a dictionary attack will try and brute-force your password by putting together random combinations of words and numbers. You might think something like "PurpleMonkey59" is secure, but the fact it follows a pattern undermines the complexity.
Some dictionary attacks also factor in common misspellings or alterations of words. For example, if you use "D4rk" instead of "Dark", that won't necessarily be enough to dramatically increase the strength of your password.
Lastly, don't reuse passwords. Creating a unique password for each online service you use might sound tedious, but it gives you another layer of security. If one password is compromised (in the event of a major hack, for example), anyone who obtains that password won't implicitly have access to the rest of your online accounts.
My password image from ShutterStock.