Secure Passwords: The Key to Your Success

Do It Yourself


One of our main gigs is creating amazing websites that are sleek and easy to use, even for people who would prefer to do zero maintenance. Some clients are surprised to learn that hiring Artsy Geek to create their website doesn’t mean we control it forever. We’re just guests! You grant us access to your website (even if we built it) and we can help you maintain it, but ensuring that you have secure control over your web properties and online accounts is a major responsibility… that falls to you. So, take a moment to review best practices with us!

The best way to maintain security is to create strong passwords and take advantage of 2FA (2 Factor Authentication) opportunities wherever they’re offered. It’s easier than you think!

Make strong (and different) passwords for every account

Any account you have on the internet should have a strong password that’s different from all other passwords, especially if you use the same email address or username to access accounts. Never reuse your passwords!

Update your passwords regularly

A best practice is to update all of your passwords every three months, but — assuming no sane person is going to update their Netflix password four times a year — you can still maintain good security by updating less often, as long as you’ve followed rule number one (strong! different!). Updating all accounts annually is a good habit, and you should make an effort to update your most sensitive accounts on a more regular basis: banking, investing, cloud storage, website hosting, domain registration, email, etc.

And it goes without saying: If you receive a notice that a security breach has occurred or suspect someone else has access to one of your accounts, change your password for that account immediately. Basic internet hygiene is important, no matter how strong your passwords are.

Consider using a password manager

Password managers make it easier to create strong passwords, remember them, and update them regularly. Their encryption features make it difficult for hackers to gain access. Another excellent trick for paranoid peeps using password managers is to save partial passwords and complete them manually from memory with a stock phrase which is the same for all passwords. This is called peppering your password. 

If you do use a password manager, it’s very important to be thoughtful when creating your master password or passphrase, since it will be protecting all of your data. Use at least four words that will be difficult to guess, follow the software’s suggestions for including numbers and punctuation, and make sure you can remember it without having to write it down.

If you don’t use a password manager, use some of our tips below for creating strong passwords that are easy to remember.

Don’t be obvious

“Password” is a bad password. That said, it’s only slightly worse than every other individual word in the dictionary. Individual words are a no-go. Too easy to hack!

Similarly, numbers in series (i.e. 5678) are also easier to hack than numbers out of series. By the same token, keyboard paths are also easy series to hack: qwerty, asdf, yuio. 

Avoid using personal info in general. Even if you think it’s esoteric, including anything steadfastly meaningful or specific to you in your password like a date, year, zip code, street name, or loved one’s name makes it easier to hack.

Do be cunning

First off, every password you create should have a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. Some accounts also have other limitations and requirements, such as a character minimum or limit. Longer is stronger — 12 characters is a good minimum.

Abbreviate a phrase that’s easy for you to remember. For example, if you love John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt and believe his name is your name, too, maybe your password is JoJaJiSch19&20.

Don’t like abbreviating? Spell it wrong! e.g. *<JawnneeDerp3*

Don’t like abbreviating or spelling things wrong? Make up a fake word! It’s not dumb if it works: fL00p&MAHp00p!

Mix things up for best results. The further away your password is from standard language, the more secure you will be. Intertwine words and numbers that are easy for you to remember (i.e. P7u4R5p1L3e) or slap unrelated words like “splatter” and “Bert” together (i.e. SPl4tt3rB3rT#!).

Keep those passwords strong, pay close attention to your most sensitive/important accounts, and make a point to update passwords more often. Use a password manager if possible. If you own a website, download our free Essential Website Info Cheat Sheet today. You can use it as a guide to keeping your most important web information updated and highly secure. Don’t be the small business with a website that’s down for two days because the owner can’t remember their login information! We can help you with a lot of things, but (unfortunately) we can’t read minds.

About the Author:

Becca is an Artsy Geek project manager who likes to wear as many hats as possible. When she's not staring at a calendar or a spreadsheet, you'll find her punching up the content with little jokes and jazzy CTAs.

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