Password Guidelines

Long & Strong

Use passphrases to make long, complex passwords more memorable. For example, take the sentence "Bob and I camped July 10–20." Remove letters, and you get "B&Icamped7-10-20", meaningful to you, but random to a computer.

Additionally, if the system permits, use the full phrase, "BobandIcampedJuly10-20." Remember — long is strong!

Creative Ideas

Get creative when making up passwords.

  • Spell a word backwards.
  • Smash several words together.
  • Put several words together and spell one of them backwards.
  • Capitalize the first two letters of one of the words in the middle.
  • Type something meaningful, but shift your fingers one key to the left or right, or one row up or down.

Strong Choices

  • Password should be at least 12 to 15 characters long — as long as possible. Length is more important than complexity.
  • Use as many different character types of characters as you can: Digits (0–9), upper and lowercase letters (A–Z, a–z), and special characters (@#$%^&*?{}=+!).
  • Use a passphrase instead of just a password.
  • Test your password using a trusted site such as For additional security, use a variation of the password you tested.

Weak Choices

  • Simple repeating patterns (1212121)
  • Adjacent letters/numbers on the keyboard (ASDFG)
  • An account number
  • Part of your Social Security number
  • Information available on social networks or genealogy sites, (e.g., birthdates, anniversaries, your name, pets' or children's names).
  • One of the most common passwords:
    • 123456
    • 123456789
    • qwerty
    • password
    • 1234567
    • 12345678
    • 12345
    • iloveyou
    • 111111
    • 123123
    • Nothing
    • Secret
    • Password1
    • Admin

Storing Passwords

Securely store a copy of login names, passwords, answers to security questions, and date created. When you're not concerned about forgetting, you will pick stronger passwords and IDs that you haven't used.

Do Not

  • Store your passwords unencrypted or in a visible location near your computer.
  • Use the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Share your password with others. By doing so, you authorize them to access your accounts, for which you assume total liability.


  • Use a different password for each site.
  • Securely store login names, passwords, and answers to security questions.
  • Use a locked drawer for paper copies.
  • Use a Password Manager to store passwords electronically.

Password Reset or Security Questions

These questions are as critical as passwords. Instead of answering honestly, or using information accessible on social networking or genealogy sites, make up answers:

  • Favorite childhood pet? Dirt
  • High school? Had Fun
  • Mother's maiden name? Favorite Grandma