As a business professional, you know one thing to be true: passwords have a way of ruling your life (even if you don’t want them to).

You need a password for your email account. You need a password for your social media platforms. And of course, you need a password for your company’s network.

While some people know what it takes to create a strong password, others continue to slack off. The reason for this is simple: they don’t believe anything bad will ever happen to them.

Here are some statistics, shared by Entrepreneur, which will have you singing a different tune in the near future:

  • In the past year, 40 percent of people have had an account hacked, had a password stolen, or received a notice that their personal information was compromised.
  • 70 percent of people don’t trust passwords to protect their online accounts.
  • 21 percent of people are still using passwords that are more than 10 years old.

With all this in mind, the time has come to focus on the top steps for creating strong passwords. It doesn’t matter who’s to blame for past password security problems in your life, here are seven things you need to do in the future:

  1. Be Unique with Each Account

Do you currently use the same password for each of your accounts? If so, you need to change your ways today. Not tomorrow, today.

Re-using passwords is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. If someone uncovers your password for one account, they then have access to others. This can make a big problem even more serious.

  1. Mix It Up

Your password should be as unique and complicated as possible. To ensure that this happens, use a mix of letters, symbols, and numbers.

Here’s an example of two different passwords, both of which are eight characters long:

  • testfour
  • Test1$%4

Which one do you think is more secure? It’s the second one, without question. It uses a capital letter, lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols.

  1. Never Use Personal Information

Many people fall into the habit of using personal information, such as their name or address, as their password.

Here’s the problem with this approach: it’s too easy for others to guess.

Your password should be unrelated to your personal life. This means you should never use your name, address, phone number, children’s names, employer name, or anything else that can be easily associated with you.

Think about it this way: the crazier the better.

  1. Backup Options are Important

What is your recovery email address? How about your recovery phone number?

This information will come in handy in the event that you need to reset your password.

Depending on the website, you may also be able to choose security questions for future account verification. Once again, select those that only you know the answer to.

  1. Be Secure

As a general rule of thumb, don’t share your passwords with anyone. Along with this, don’t leave your passwords displayed, such as on your desk or computer, for everyone to see.

If you have any reason to believe your password has been stolen or somebody knows what it is, be sure to make a change. For example, you could have been a recent victim of a phishing scam. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to password security.

  1. Get Help

This doesn’t mean you should ask others for help. In other words, don’t take a poll on Twitter in hopes of finding the perfect password.

What it does mean, however, is that you can turn to a password generator tool to point you in the right direction. With this, all you have to do is make a few choices – such as the length of your password and whether you want to use symbols – and then hit the “generate” button.

From there, you’re provided with a password that is probably stronger than anything you could have come up with on your own.

You’re not required to get this type of help, but it never hurts. This is the perfect solution for people who continually choose passwords that don’t live up to the high security standards required in today’s day and age.

  1. Change it Often

It’s one thing to know what it takes to create a strong password. It’s another thing entirely to actually do so. Fortunately, with the help of the tips above, you should be able to make this happen.

But remember this: just because you create a strong password doesn’t mean that it’s good enough for all of eternity.

You should get into the habit of changing your password every so often. How often depends on many factors, including the strength of your password and your risk tolerance.

Obviously, since you don’t want to take a risk with your security and personal information, you should change your password on a regular schedule. For example, do this at the beginning of each month or every other month.

At first, this may be a hassle. Over time, however, it will become second nature. Even if it takes some time, it’s worth the higher level of security that you’ll receive in return.

Conclusion

There are many things to avoid and many things you should be doing when choosing a password. This may not sound like a big deal, but it’s important than ever.

When you follow this five step guide, you’ll find yourself in position to create strong passwords that give you the security and peace of mind you’ve been seeking.