Hackers. It’s a word we wish wasn’t part of our vocabulary. As we’re more active online, from banking and buying to social media sharing, it’s a risk we know all too well. In fact, most of us know of someone who has been hacked, if we haven’t been hacked at least once ourselves. How can you protect yourself? One of the best ways you can protect yourself is by having strong passwords. Here are some tips to make yours the best they can be: 1. Length: When it comes to passwords, longer is better. The recommended minimum is 8 characters. 2. Combinations: Use a mix of letters and numbers, as well as upper and lower case, as well as symbols. The more you vary the choices you make, the better. 3. Common words: If it’s in the dictionary, the word you use as your password can be cracked more easily. A trick to get around this is to insert numbers or symbols in the middle of the word, like this: mid456dle. 4. Switches: Substitute letters, symbols, and characters that are easy for you to remember but difficult to figure out, like using a zero in a word instead of the letter O. 5. Familiar: If it’s a word or number that’s easily connected to you, whether by common knowledge or with a little research, don’t use it. So things like your street number, company name, and zip code are all no-gos. Once you’ve created a strong password, it’s too bad you can’t use it for multiple purposes—but that’s another no-no. Never reuse passwords that are used on critical or identifying accounts. Why? Once it’s stolen, a hacker could use the password to gain access to even more of your accounts. And if you ever think your password was compromised, change it immediately.