How to set a strong password

We now know that password, iloveyou and 123456 are some of the most common passwords in use. If you are still using a similarly weak password, it’s time to change to one that’s so secure and unguessable that it stumps even the cleverest of computers, robots and devious humans. Here are a few tips to creating a secure and memorable password:

1. Security technologist Bruce Schneier suggests constructing a password from a sentence, such as This little piggy went to market, which might become tlpWENT2m. Or wizard, you shall not pass might become wUshallNOTp. I wouldn’t advise to construct one from hackmeifyoucan, though. That’s tempting fate.

2. Or, take a line of a song, and use the initial letters of each word. You know you make me wanna shout would become ukuMAKEMEws. Don’t choose a catchy song. It might give the game away if every time you log on you start singing Shout for no apparent reason.

3. If you have to pick a number to go in your password, steer clear of addresses – and birthdays. Pick a number that means something to you but isn’t so blatantly obvious. Use the latest unemployment figures, or the number of miles from your desk to your favourite place, or the temperature at which a pigeon would spontaneously combust.

4. Don’t let your browser remember the password for you. A browser cannot be trusted – it’s open to hackers, and if your computer is stolen your passwords are as good as plastered on the screen. Anyone who has ever left their Facebook page open with cheeky friends around has felt the sting of a wide-open browser.

5. A nonsense word made up of several words is another winner for a secure password. If I felt like recalling the months of the year with 30 days I could make my password SeApJuNo. But length is an advantage. The longer the password, the more secure, so don’t be afraid to smoosh together as many words as you like. For example, if my family members were Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Marge and Homer, my password could read BaLiMaMaHom.