Need another reason to guard your computer passwords? It's possible they could be cracked by eagle-eared identity thieves using a high-tech microphone that detects sound through glass.
To keep your passwords unknown—and unknowable—follow these pointers:
Do combine parts of two unusual unrelated words, such as gastrocumulus or cytoplasticity. The longer and stranger the better.
Do mix capital and lowercase characters, as well as symbols and numbers, in the middle of the password: f2reeDoMeYe#wTness, not freedomeyewitness.
Do use words from a foreign language in combo with an English word. Many hackers try to crack passwords with common words, or with those pooled from the dictionary database of a single language.
Don't use anything that can be easily guessed by neighbors, co-workers or strangers who get their hands on your wallet—a nickname, child's name, pet's name, or your favorite sports team or hobby.
Don't use slightly different versions of the same password on different websites, such as ABCebay, ABCmortgage or and ABCvisa.
Don't pair a common word or your name with a different character at the beginning or end, such as $user or johnsmith7.
Don't use the same password from one application to another. "It's fine to have a simple, short password on a news website," says Dr. Tygar. "But use a different, longer, more complicated password on a site with sensitive information."
Get more tips of Sid's tips on how to protect your credit.