Strong Passwords

Written by Chris Powell

I wanna talk tech for a bit. Your safety and security on the internet is important to me. I have many conversations with clients and friends who lament an online account getting hacked and are in the middle of a tough online battle to reclaim what is theirs. It makes me sad to listen, provide support and understanding, and walk with them through a difficult time. One of the best ways to maintain security online I can suggest is to have a strong, tough-to-crack password. Should the time occur when you need to change your password on a website, consider these guidelines:

  • A strong password contains letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Bonus points for using both capital and lowercase letters.
  • The more characters you have in your password, the better.
  • The more memorable or personalized it is to you, the better.

So let’s take me for example. I like eating sushi. And I like listening to ambient music.

sushiambient = 12 characters is a good size, but we need more numbers and special characters.

The year is 2016. I like typing periods. And exclamation points!

2016Sushi.ambient! = 18 characters, capital/lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Tough to crack.

If you still have thought space available by now, here’s one more approach to passwords I’d like you to consider. If you use one password for all your online websites, and one of them gets hacked, the bad guys may theoretically possess your password to every other website you are on, which is a bit of a concern to us both. If we add the website we’re going to, it gets personalized, and much more secure:


Now we’re talkin’ strong, unique, memorable passwords. Should you want to test the strength of your current password, check out this website I use on a regular basis.

Chris Powell has been a professional technologist for two decades. Currently he is the IT Manager for the College of Business and Economics at Western Washington University, an instructor with Whatcom Community College’ Community Education, and is owner of Chris Powell Associates, a technology consulting business serving Whatcom County.

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