Passwords are the initial step of protection in securing our financial, credit and identity access. But we all are doing a pretty lousy job to guard that line.

Protecting your passwords is one of the most important steps to ensure your online interactions are safe and secure. The good news is that you have power over protecting your passwords— you just need to create strong and secure passwords and keep them private afterward.

To help you create unique, complex passwords, follow these guidelines.

Never Use Personal Information

Do not use in your passwords your name or the names of family or pets Neither use numbers such as your address, phone number, or birthdays.

These can be available to the public. The forms you fill out on social media profiles can be easily obtained by hackers.

Make Use of Characters

Password cracking tools help attackers guess your password very efficiently.

Such software will analyze any word in the dictionary, including combinations of letters and numbers, until a match is found. Steer clear of using the dictionary’s real words, proper names or nouns.

Use specific characters instead. By combining upper- and lower-case letters with numbers and special characters such as “&” or,” “$” you can increase the complexity of your password and help reduce the chances that others might hack into your account.

Prefer Longer Passwords

The longer the password the more difficult it can be to crack.

Try at least 10 words. This frustrates hackers as well.

Keep Easy to Remember Phrases

One recommendation is to think of a passphrase, such as a line from a song, and then use each word’s first letter, replacing some of the letters with numbers.

For example, “100 Beer bottles on the Wall” could turn into “10oBb0tW.”

Do not Stick to One Password for Months

Passwords should be changed every month or two for your online financial accounts.

Passwords for computer login must be changed at least once every quarter. If a data breach occurs, using the same password for longer periods could jeopardize your information.

Keep Different Passwords for Different Accounts

Never use the same password for more than one account.

If a hacker breaks it, it could also break all the information protected by that password on other accounts. Use only a password generator to help create unique and strong passwords.

Do Not Keep It Save on Any Document or Paper

Avoid the temptation of hiding or sharing passwords on your screen under your keyboard. There are absolutely real tales of hackers obtaining passwords by rummaging through garbage, also known as dumpster diving.

Make sure that no one is watching or looking over your shoulder when you type your password in a public setting.

One method to safely store and remember passwords is by using a tool that holds an encrypted list of usernames and passwords. Many of these tools called password managers, will even support by filling out the details on some websites for you automatically.

Don’t Put Passwords on Other’s Devices

Never type your password on the device of another user. Without your knowledge, it could be stored.

You must avoid visiting websites that ask you to sign in to your account when using your devices on public Wi-Fi, such as online banking or shopping.

If you are on an unprotected public network, a nearby hacker could intercept your unencrypted data.