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Back to October 2012 Newsletter

Five Easy Steps to Make Information Security Strongly Personal

by David Smallen

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month. The most important thing you can do to protect your information (and that of others at Hamilton) is to use strong passwords.

A strong password is one that:

  • Contains at least 8 characters
  • At least one is a capital letter
  • At least one is a small letter
  • At least one is a number
  • At least one is a special character (e.g., &%$#!)

Sounds difficult to create and remember? Not really!

Here is a simple 5-step process to create a strong password that I use:

  1. Take a phrase, quotation or other part of a sentence that means something to you (e.g., “You can’t thank people enough for what they do”). This is the most important step because choosing something that is meaningful to you will make it easy for you to remember (without having to write it down).
  1. Write down the first letter of each word: yctpefwtd
  1. Capitalize every third letter (you make up the rule): ycTpeFwtD
  1. Replace any letter “e” with the number “8”: ycTp8FwtD (I use 8 because eight begins with “e”). You can do this with any number that is easy for you to remember.
  1. Replace the “p” with “%” (percent begins with “p”) to arrive at the password: ycT%8FwtD

You can modify each of the steps above to make them more meaningful to you, but at the end you will have a strong password.

And remember; Passwords are like toothbrushes. They are best when changed regularly and never shared.