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Special Report: How to come up with the perfect passwords

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - In the age of the internet, you need a password for everything.

But how do you make them complicated enough not to guess, but easy enough to remember?

Lisa Wood works at Milwaukee PC and spends her days surrounded by computers.  Part of her job is fixing the forgetful. “I get, at minimum, one password a week,” said Wood.

It Seem like everything nowadays needs a password, and not just your name or birth date.

“Have a certain number of letters, at least one or two numbers, and a symbol like a dollar sign, at least one capitalized letter,” said Wood.

But just making it complicated isn't enough, you also have to avoid being predictable.

“The best advice for passwords, is to actually use a different one at every site,” said Mark Risher, the head of Product Development at Google.

The idea of making every password different can be easier said than done.  Between social media, personal accounts, work accounts, and streaming services, a person can have a couple of dozen passwords to remember.

Having that many different passwords often leads to the inevitable click on the ‘forgot password’ symbol.

So what's the trick to remember? Experts say, it can be as easy as picking a theme.

“Have two or three key words, mix and match those with numbers, maybe your favorite number,” said Wood, “for example, if I had bluecat27, for a different one I'd do 27bluecat, or maybe even a different animal, bluedog and do the same number.”

You can also capitalize a letter and change which letter you use for every new password.

It's how you make it more complicated to guess but easy to remember.

“I have insane passwords that no one would ever crack,” said Shane Brady, an identity theft victim.

“So I make acronyms and I throw numbers of hockey players into my passwords to mix up letters and numbers,” said Brady.

Along with passwords, you can set up a two tier authentication which uses text or an app. "That's probably the best way your viewers can protect themselves is by adding that second factor,” said Risher.

A code is sent to your device and you simply type it in.

When it comes to passwords, resist the urge to go easy.

SplashData says the most popular password in 2017 was 123456. “Do not use something that's obvious,” said Wood, “never use an obvious one.”

As more and more passwords pile up, and you still struggle to remember, you can always go old school and write them down.

“It's good to keep some type of safe, physical copy that no one knows where it is,” said Wood.

There is password management software to keep track of passwords, but if anything happens to your computer you'll lose them all.

As far as changing your password, you'll want to do it more often the more you use the program. If you hardly ever use it, you can probably leave it the same.

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