How to build the best password

Your password is the frontline of your online security, so make sure you've got the best one possible.

The news is reporting on a new hacking scandal seemingly every week, with high-tech thieves apparently able to bypass security and make off with valuable data at the drop of a hat.

Hackers don't even need to be particularly skilled if they can guess the passwords you're using in a couple of seconds.

Despite the fact we all know this, people can be pretty lazy about passwords.

When we say pretty lazy, we really mean exceptionally lazy. Some of the most popular passwords last year were "123456", "password" and "12345678".

The temptation to take the easy path with passwords is strong. A powerful password is also a hard one to remember, so it's easier to go down the simple but very insecure path.

Here are some simple ways to make those passwords even more secure than ever.

Get a recipe for the right password

For a start, your password needs to be long. The current wisdom from security experts is that a good password is at least 16 characters, preferably longer.

Your password needs to have a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters as well as numbers, special characters and even spaces. If you're not sure what a special character is, it's just punctuation or symbols such as @ and $ or even &.

A good password has no repetition, nothing you'd see in the dictionary, no names or pronouns and definitely no number combinations such as your birthday!

If this sounds like overkill, it's because we're not really making a password that another person can't guess. We're making a password that a computer can't easily guess, and that's a very different scenario.

How can I remember all that?

Some password experts suggest that you take a sentence or phrase and turn it into a password. For example, you could take "I hope that Amanda Keller gets the Gold Logie in 2018" and turn that into "IhtAKgtGLi2018".

However this can encourage you to use the same password across multiple sites and services and that's a big no-no in the world of security.

This is why many people use a password manager, which you might occasionally see called a password locker. A password manager not only takes care of coming up with extremely long and tough passwords, it remembers them for you as well.

These services work with your web browser and operate as a bit of a digital security guard, making up a random, complex password for each of the sites and services you use and then automatically logging you in. All you need to remember is one (very safe) password for the manager.

Some of the highly recommended password managers include applications such as LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password. Some will offer simple browser integration for easy login to your favourite websites, and many will allow you to upload an encrypted file with your passwords on it to the cloud, so you can access your passwords from multiple devices.

What about logging in with Facebook and Google?

Some sites, such as news websites, might offer you the option to log in via Facebook or Google instead of signing up as a new account.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but be aware that the site you're signing up to may get access to some personal information about you from Facebook and Google.

This means you should be up-to-date on how much personal data you make available on these services, especially Facebook. Only use a social log-in with sites that you trust and that you're comfortable sharing that data with.

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