What is a strong password? A hard to remember combination of numbers, symbols, and upper- and lowercase letters? Well, since you don’t possibly remember lots of passwords, reuse a small number of passwords over and over again, or just change your complicated passwords by adding a “1” or an exclamation point, you actually make it easier for hackers.

There are dumped databases of stolen passwords and usernames, which have been saved from famous hacks, including Ashley Madison, which the hackers use to easily break into online accounts. Moreover, the hackers have stopped guessing the passwords; instead, they use a rig cluster for cracking down passwords, which saves them a lot of time.

An image showing password strength in green using the password meter.

Recently, researchers into password security have developed some specific recommendations for choosing passwords — based on scientific knowledge — which provide good protection for online accounts and the data they contain. In an article for The Conversation, they explained:

“While most password meters on the internet provide inaccurate scores and sometimes questionable advice, we developed a password meter that uses an artificial neural network to compute the strength of those passwords based on an analysis of millions of other passwords. In addition, when it identifies a weak password, our meter provides immediate advice on what would make it stronger.”

An image showing the full result in green after following all the protocols instructed by the password meter.

To help people create strong passwords, the researchers developed an interactive password meter, which gives people feedback at the moment they’re creating new passwords. These password meters use color-coded signals to identify the strength of the password.

Unlike most password meters on the Internet, their password meter uses a special set of algorithm to generate long, random passwords – and remembers them for you. Here’s their guide on how to choose the strongest password:

  • Make your password at least 12 characters, and mix it up with at least two or three different types of characters (lowercase letters, uppercase letters, digits and symbols). Don’t put your capital letters at the beginning or your digits or symbols at the end.
  • Avoid including names of people or pets, places you have lived, sports teams, stuff you like or birth dates. Avoid common phrases and song lyrics. Don’t use patterns (“abc,” “123”), including patterns on the keyboard (“1qazxsw2”).
  • Create a sentence that no one’s ever said before and use the first letter or two of each word as your password, mixing in other types of characters.