Let's face it, the Internet can be a dangerous place. Hackers have been making headlines recently with large-scale cyber attacks, like the attack on Sony back in April. Nearly four months later, Sony is still trying to recover from that one. If people can hack into big-name corporations like that, how easily do you think they can get to you and your personal information?

Luckily, we have a way to fight back: passwords. Passwords are our first line of defense against hackers, so it's important to know how to make them strong.

Here are some tips on how to create a strong password:

  • Make it long, at least 14 characters. The longer your password is, the longer it will take hackers to figure it out.
  • Use the entire keyboard, not just letters and numbers. Throwing in something like an ampersand or a dollar sign or even a simple punctuation mark makes it that more complex, and the more complex it is, the better.
  • Use both upper and lowercase letters.
  • Once you're done, test your password out with a password checker, like this one from Microsoft.

And if you don't want a weak password, then avoid using any of the following:

  • Sequences or repeating characters (like "123456," "aaaaaaa," ect.)
  • Personal information such as names, birthdays, social security numbers and the like
  • Words that can be easily found in the dictionary.

And two final things: I would recommend using a different password for every online service you use. Don't use the same password for your E-mail that you would use for, say, your online banking service. And if you have trouble remembering all those passwords, it's not that hard to write them down and put them in a safe place. Or, you can look into a program like Roboform that stores all your passwords for you.

In short, the longer and more complex your password is, the safer you'll be from cyber criminals.