You probably wouldn’t give your ATM card and PIN to a stranger and then walk away. So, why would you give away your username and password? Your login credentials protect information as valuable as the money in your checking account.

Passwords are the key to almost everything you do online. There are simple rules to make your passwords as secure as possible, preventing theft of your data (or money if you use online banking!). These 5 tips will make your digital life more secure:


Length trumps complexity.  The longer a password is, the better. 8 characters used to be safe, now it’s not. Use 12 characters or more. Windows passwords are more secure if they are at least 16 characters long.

Passwords are out, Passphrases are in.  Use simple short sentences that are easy to remember instead of passwords. “UCSB is great” is a short passphrase. It may be easier and quicker to type than “0zwyUcyX” and it’s certainly easier to remember.

Complexity still counts.  A mix of upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters is better than just words alone. A password should use at least 3 of these. “UCSB is great!” is better with the exclamation mark. “UCSB class of 17” is also good.

Use different passwords for different accounts. If a site is compromised and passwords are stolen, hackers will try your passwords against other sites. Having a different password for each site will prevent this. Malware that includes key loggers can only capture one password at a time. If you get a virus you won’t lose all of your passwords.

Use password management tools. Can’t remember all these passwords? Password management tools are a great way to organize your passwords.

  • Bitwarden is a free open-source and paid plans available.
  • 1Password has free and paid plans available.
  • Dashlane is an online service that is available for free.


Download the UCSB Risk Treatment Plan - Password/Passphrase & Authentication Management