Considering how good hackers have gotten in the past several years, you may feel like you need a master’s degree just to create a secure password. But keeping your account safe doesn’t have to be complicated. Next time you create a password, make sure you follow these steps.

1. Use numbers, letters, and characters

There are 26 letters in the alphabet, yet an infinite supply of numbers, so using just letters in your password isn’t smart. You’d be better off creating a code out of numbers to use as your password or mixing letters and numbers. Add some special characters like @#$%&* to make your password even stronger.

2. Make it long yet memorable

If you decide to use words or a phrase, don’t use your birthday, your mom’s name, etc. just to make it easier to remember your password. Someone could easily look at your background and gather enough information to hack your account. However, using something extremely personal like your favorite line from a song, book, movie, etc. is acceptable. This will make the password easy for you to remember but harder for a hacker/bot to guess. The word or phrase needs to be 8 characters or more in order to be secure.

3. Don’t recycle passwords

It’s so tempting to create a really good password and then use it for everything. But suppose a hacker guesses or hacks that account? They now have equal access to moderately sensitive data (social media accounts, photos) and highly sensitive data (bank account, credit card information) This is why it’s incredibly risky to use the same password for multiple accounts. Creating a different password for every account is worth the hassle! Because if one is hacked, the others are still safe.

4. If you’re afraid you’ll forget, protect your backup

Unless you have a superb memory, you will probably have a hard time remembering all of your passwords, especially if you actually do all of the steps we mentioned above. Try using a locked document or spreadsheet to store your passwords. Or keep a list of them locked in a fire-proof personal safe. You could also use a site like 1PasswordLastPass or Dashlane to protect your passwords.

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