Creating Strong Passwords
A strong password can help protect your personal information and sensitive data from thieves. Read on for guidelines to crafting a hard-to-crack code.
6 Steps To Creating Strong Passwords
- Use at least 16 characters. Longer passwords are stronger. Instead of using a single word, consider creating a passphrase – an obscure but easy-to-remember string of words, such as “&IheartluvBECUitisthebe$t!.”
- Mix it up. Use a combination of numbers, upper- and lowercase letters and special symbols.
- Try using a “non-word”. For example, choose “appledum42” instead of “apple42.”
- Use deliberate misspellings. You might substitute “enjin” for “engine” or “chokolat” for “chocolate.”
- Avoid personal info and common words. Don't use information that others might know or could easily find out. Some examples of common information to avoid using are your nickname or initials; your pet's name; important birthdays or years; and your street name or numbers from your address.
- Create unique passwords or pass phrases for critical accounts. Using the same password for financial and personal accounts is risky. If someone gets your password for one account, they'd also have access to your email, personal information and even your money.
Keeping Passwords Secure
After you've created strong passwords, take steps to keep them safe.
- Ensure your contact info on file is accurate and up to date. Most organizations send an email or text when a password has been changed to confirm it's a legitimate change. Make sure the phone number and email on file for you is correct so you can take immediate action if necessary.
- Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) when available. Even the best passwords can be compromised – but MFA can help. MFA requires a password and at least one other identifying factor that only you should have access to – such as a fingerprint, or entering a code from a text – to log in. It's not foolproof, but MFA can stop most hackers from using stolen passwords. To add MFA to your BECU accounts, log in to Online Banking and go to Manage Security Options under your profile.
- Use a password manager. Password management tools create strong and unique passwords for each of your online accounts. They're stored in an encrypted digital vault accessible from all your devices. You just need to create and remember one strong master password that unlocks the password manager.
- Hide written passwords. If you need to write down a password – or if you keep passwords in a notebook – don't leave it where someone could find it. You should also obscure where the password is used. For example, place a ‘B' next to the password instead of ‘BECU.' Make sure any written passwords are in a secret or locked location.
- Protect usernames, too. Don't use your email address for your username – it's too easy to find your email on the internet, and then hackers have half the equation.