Please choose a password. Your password must be between six and sixteen characters in length.

Your password must contain at least one letter, one number, two wingdings and an emoticon.

Your password should not include information that may be readily accessible online (such as birth date or hat size), common words or phrases (such as “hat” or “hat size”), or any reference to how big a hat has to be in order to fit your head properly.

Security question: What is your hat size?

Passwords are case sensitive! Your password should contain at least one capital letter and at least one capital number.

Avoid words that may be found in any English or foreign language dictionary, as most hackers are master Scrabble players who have those things memorized.

Sorry, BUQSHAS is a word. It’s a Yemeni coin with a value of 1/40 of a riyal. It’s worth 21 points, plus a 50-point bonus for using all your letters.

Security Question: Who is a person you’ve met?

If you password refers to an inside joke, think about letting us in on it.

Strong passwords often use symbols in the place of letters. For example, instead of the letter “W”, consider using a series of slashes shaped like a “W”, and instead of the letter “A” use the @ symbol. With a little ingenuity, a word like PASSWORD becomes “P@$$//ø®|)”. Alternatively, if you password is “P@$$//ø®|)” you can fool would be identity thieves by writing out PASSWORD.

However, don’t take that to mean that you can choose PASSWORD as your password. That’s way too meta. It would be like doing a Rich Little impression.

Security Question: Name the city where your girlfriend told you that she loved you, but worried that you were using your career as a technical writer as a crutch to avoid real adult responsibility, and you got angry, not because she accused you of being immature, but because her criticism really hit home and now you realize that you allowed the one person in the universe who ever really cared for you to leave you standing under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis?

If you use a public computer, check the settings to ensure that the browser does not store your password automatically. Also, remember that sharing computers is basically communism.

Don’t tattoo your password on your body. I learned that the hard way.

Avoid common keyboard combinations such as QWERTY and SARAHICAN’TBELIEVEYOUAREDATINGAGAINSOSOON.

Security Question: Do you know what “P@$$//ø®|)” means? I think I’m supposed to remember it for some reason, but it just looks like a weird string of symbols.

If you are choosing a new password, please pick one that’s different from your last five passwords. And by different, we don’t mean just rearranging a few letters or putting a “1” after it.

Never write down your password. In fact, the most secure passwords cannot be represented in any written language.

For security purposes, don’t tell anybody your password. In fact, don’t even tell us. And to be super safe, you probably shouldn’t know it either.

But don’t make your password too obscure or too difficult! What if you really love someone, but you can’t admit it to yourself and you won’t talk to them? Maybe that someone would have no choice but to read your email to make sure you’re okay.

Security Question: What is your password?

If you lose your password, try to think real hard about it and see if you can remember it. Check you hat size – maybe that’ll ring a bell.

-M. Shear

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