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Tips for Strong, Secure Passwords

“A strong password is your first line of defense. Create passwords that you can remember, but others can't guess.”


  • Never share your password with anyone
  • Do not just use one password for all your accounts
  • Do not post it in plain sight (ie. Under your keyboard)
  • Make your password at least 8 characters long including numbers, upper- and lower- case letters, and symbols
    • Consider using a $ instead of an S or a 1 instead of an L, 3 instead of E, or included an & or % symbol. Remember the longer the better!
    • Always refer to password tips based on the site guidelines, different sites require different password types. (e.g. some accounts require a mix of upper case and lower case letters with numbers. Other require the use of special symbols).
  • Do not use words that can be found in a dictionary no matter the language
  • Consider using a passphrase (PC Mag) instead of a password where possible since they are harder to crack. The key is to make it long but not complicated for yourself.
    ex: TheBanker'sHeart@555CaliforniaStreet
  • Consider a "password" for your phone (and all other mobile devices like tablets) too

Please refer to CUNY IT Security Procedures and direct your attention to Section II, Policy 8 regarding the use of Password.

“Passwords and private encryption keys must be treated as Non-Public University Information and, as such, are not to be shared with anyone.” -CUNY


What makes a bad password?

  • Dates: 19XX, 20XX, other anniversaries or famous years like 1776 or 1066. It is better for forget a Birthday than to have your account hacked!
  • The word "password": pass, password, p@$$word or any variant
  • Sports references: footballfan, hockey, gosox
  • Names: pets, spouses, children, grandchildren, celebrities
  • Personal information: your name, email address, phone number, or social security number
  • Keyboard patterns or sequential numbers: qwerty, asdf, 123456

Do you use any of these as a password, or in combination with a single dictionary word? If so you need to upgrade your password to something stronger.

More Information on Passwords

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