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Office security basics

A padlock and a strong password

A strong password is like a padlock, it will lock out most people—but it can still be broken. (Lots of people are taking this course, so you shouldn't use the password shown here.)

No password is 100 percent secure. It can always be guessed or worked out. However, you can swing the odds in your favor by using a strong password.

A strong password cannot be easily worked out by anyone else. You should use strong passwords wherever you need a password. For example, for your computer logon, a Web account login, or for protecting documents.

Strong passwords:

  • Are at least seven characters long.
  • Include both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and a symbol character between the second and sixth position.
  • Look like a random collection of characters.
  • Have no repeated characters.
  • Have no characters that are consecutive, as in 1234, abcd, or qwerty.
  • Do not contain patterns, themes, or complete words (in any language).
  • Do not use numbers or symbols in place of similar letters. For example, $ for S, or 1 for l, as this makes the password easier to guess.
  • Do not use any part of your user name for logging on to the Internet or a network.

Change passwords frequently—at least every one to three months. When you replace a password, make sure it's totally different from the previous one and do not reuse any portion of the old password.

Use caution when a Microsoft Windows dialog box asks if you want Windows to remember a password. If you say yes, in effect, you are giving anyone who logs on to that computer access to that password–protected item.

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