Creating a Secure Password

A password is of little value if it's easily guessed by an intruder. Obviously, you shouldn't use your name or something equally transparent. However, even a random word provides little security against a determined intruder—some hackers use tools that try every word in the dictionary. By observing the following guidelines, you can create a password that's difficult to crack in a reasonable amount of time:

• Use at least eight characters . Longer is better, which is why some security experts suggest using a pass phrase. A password or phrase can (and should) include spaces and punctuation; the maximum length is 127 characters .

• Use a mixture of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation .

• Avoid including your name or user name in the password.

• Use random sequences instead of words, or intersperse numbers and punctuation within words—W!nd()wS 7 1ns!dE ()uT for example.

With a little thought, it's pretty easy to come up with a password that is memorable and secure. For example, start with a phrase about yourself or your hobbies—one that you can easily remember, such as I'm addicted to Solitaire. Make a few letter substitutions, misspell a word or two, and you come up with I'm +Icted 2 $ol!ta!re. It's long, uses all four types of characters, contains no dictionary words, and is easy to remember—so you won't be tempted to write it on a sticky note attached to your monitor.

troubleshooting

You can't log on

Even when you're certain you know the password, you might have trouble logging on. First, be aware that passwords are case sensitive: You must type capital letters and lowercase letters exactly as you did when you created the password . If you still can't get on, be sure the Caps Lock key is not on .

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