Passwords. We all use them. They are our entry ticket into our digital world: email, Facebook, online banking, shopping. According to Consumer Reports, more than half of U.S. adults have six or more password protected accounts. I suspect that many of you reading this have a lot more than that! In any case, you've heard us talk a lot out password security — and since today is Change Your Password Day — I thought it would be worth talking about password safety.

So first — the problem. The reason this is such a big deal is that hackers are using a lot of tricks to gain access to your accounts. They do things like writing applications which will try to guess your passwords by attempting to log in to a common site hundreds of times. So a password that is not easy to guess is really important. And you've probably recently heard about websites that have been hacked, resulting in millions of personal records being stolen. Many of those records are passwords.

Now, the good news. Changing your password doesn't take long, and many sites, including ours, offer password strength meters so that you know your new password is well protected. Here are some tips when creating or changing your password:

  1. Avoid the obvious. You probably won't forget your own birthday, but resist the urge to make it your password.

  2. Avoid dictionary words. Software that guesses passwords based on standard language, including words spelled backwards, common misspellings, and substitutions (like using a 3 instead of the letter e) are all too easy to find. Mix up your words, or use randomly generated strings of letters and numbers.

  3. Longer is better. The longer the password the harder it is to crack. Use a password with at least 8-14 characters.

  4. Use the entire keyboard. Combine numbers, letters (upper and lower case) and symbols to create a unique, secure password.

  5. Keep an eye on your accounts. You keep an eye on your credit card statements, right? The same theory applies for your other online accounts. Check them from time to time for suspicious activity. If you see anything out of the ordinary change your password and alert your account provider.

Here's some even better news. Once you change your passwords, go ahead and download the Constant Guard Protection Suite offered at no additional charge to Xfinity Internet Customers. This application will securely store your passwords (along with your credit card number), and then securely connect you to banking and financial sites. So you get the peace of mind of shopping and banking with confidence, and you get the convenience of being able to log into any of your accounts with just one click. It's that easy!