October is Cyber Security Awareness month. My dad has worked in cyber security for over 30 years, so from the time I was creating internet accounts in sites like Nick.com and AOL Instant Messenger in the late 1990s, I understood the importance of a good password.

Because we often value simplicity over security, we make passwords that are easy for even the least skilled hackers to crack.

This is a social media coaching site, so a blog post about passwords may seem a bit odd, but strong passwords are vital to any social media strategy. Why? Weak passwords and hacked accounts can shipwreck your social media strategy before you really have a chance to implement it.

Later this week, I hope to provide some ideas and ways to create (and remember) strong passwords. But first, let’s look at the 10 most common passwords on the internet (as of 2016, according to Keeper). Do NOT use any of these passwords:

1. 123456

2. 123456789

3. qwerty

4. 12345678

5. 111111

6. 1234567890

7. 1234567

8. password

9. 123123

10. 987654321

But how do you make strong passwords? Dashlane, one of the most popular password managers in the world (and the one I’ve started using) says:

While many sites and applications only require you to create a passwords with a minimum of 8 characters, try to make your passwords 12 – 15 characters long.

-Avoid using dictionary words, slang, curse words, email addresses, names, places, etc.Instead, use password mnemonics to create a complex, but memorable password. Start with a meaningful phrase, sentence, song lyric, etc. and add numbers, capital letters, and symbols for password complexity, like so: “I love watermelon because it just turns to water in your belly!” = “iLwmbcijtth2OiyB!”

-Use different letters, numbers, and special symbols that you’ve never used before. While you think you could get away with replacing an “S” with a “$” or changing an “A” to “@” hackers are already one step ahead of you and can easily pick up on these patterns. Instead, try using a different set of symbols, including (_-)+=^*&%#~[]:;”‘><,./?

Can’t remember your new password? Write down a password hint, and keep it in a safe place. While we encourage you to never, ever write down your password, if you need help remembering it, write down a hint that will trigger your memory, but be meaningless to anyone else. For example, you can write down “Fruit juice” as your hint to remember “I love watermelon because it just turns to water in your belly!” = “iLwmbcijtth2OiyB!” Then, store that hint in a safe place, like your wallet.

More tips for keeping your accounts secure online will follow throughout the month of October. Do yourself and your social media strategy a favor by keeping your accounts as secure as possible by avoiding the top 10 most common passwords listed above.

Chris Martin
Chris Martin is the Co-Creator and Chief Content Officer at LifeWay Social as well as an Author Development Specialist at LifeWay. He and his wife Susie live outside Nashville, TN.