What should be the length of computer sign-in passwords and what combination of letters, numbers and other symbols should they include?

Expert Answers

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There is no magical length for a secure password – and “secure” is a relative term when discussing computer security.  Many programs require that passwords contain a minimum of eight letters and/or numbers.  Some even require the user to include a symbol and at least one upper-case letter.  Most, however, only specify a numerical minimum, and some not even that.

The most secure passwords do have at least eight characters.  It is recommended that computer users choose passwords that use combinations of letters, numbers and symbols, with randomly-selected letters capitalized.  And avoid using numbers that are associated with the user or members of his or her family, like birthdates.  Finally, passwords should be changed frequently, about once every two to three months.

It is important to remember that transmitting information through wireless networks is inherently risky.  As convenient as WiFi is for most people, using it to transmit personal information is not advised.

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