A rule of thumb is advice that has been tried and found applicable in many different situations. You don’t have to figure things out for yourself, just follow the golden rule. Why take the time to discover something for yourself, the hard way, when you can learn from others?

So here are five proven golden rules for choosing a strong password.

Golden rule #1:

Your password must be at least 6-8 characters long and must not have consecutive identical characters. There are actually two rules, but both have to do with the length and content of your password. It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it, to implement this simple tip, and yet many people just set a password like “AAAABBBB” and hope for the best. And remember, don’t use all numbers or all letters: stay away from “12345678” or “ABCDEFG” (and believe me, I’ve come across both examples!

Golden rule #2:

is to avoid recycling old passwords. This may affect you in the future because word spreads. For example, for a year or two I used my apartment number and street as a password. It was easy for me to remember. But, of course, it was also easy to find out, as I found out to my cost when I had my auction site account stolen. Be sure and don’t forget that not changing your passwords regularly will be something you will regret.

Golden rule #3:

Change all default provider passwords. This is essential because mobile phones, for example, are easily stolen. If you didn’t change the default password on your cell phone (often ‘0000’), you’ll end up with a hefty charge when your next bill arrives.

Golden rule #4:

Use a password generator. There are several ways to do this, including buying software that will generate random numbers and characters that go beyond a series that you could choose yourself. Many accounts that require passwords will accept passwords of up to 16 characters, a more difficult sequence to crack than one of just six or eight.

If you don’t want to buy software, why not check out the series of letters and numbers that often accompany the browser address, like “A3P5ROKL5A1OLE” (I copied it from an online bookseller after clicking on a book I was interested in) . It’s part of a much longer sequence and I only copied a random section.

Golden rule #5:

is to change your passwords at regular intervals. You can achieve this by setting a progress alarm in the diary on your phone or PC. It can be very important as third party attacks on computers are increasing exponentially and regular password changes ensure that the level of phishing and identity theft goes up. This will almost certainly involve investing in antivirus software and keeping it up to date.

Before we finish, please do not use any of the above passwords!

So follow these golden rules for choosing a strong password, and you’ll feel more secure knowing that you’ve acted responsibly to protect your most valuable asset: yourself.

Five golden rules on how to choose a strong password

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