You didn’t use a mnemonic device


Lifehacker suggests using the Person-Action-Object (PAO) method to create an unbreakable password. Visualize a famous person doing a random act with a random object (say, Abraham Lincoln surfing with a gallon of milk). Now combine parts of that phrase to make a new word, like AbeLiSurfilk. Not only do you have a word that’s too random for any hacker to crack, but you’ll be the only person it makes sense to. Plus, our brains remember data better with visual cues (and especially with weird ones), so memorizing it will be a cinch. Here are some online scams to be aware of—and how to avoid them.

It’s not long enough


Security experts say your password should be 12-14 characters long if possible. Similar to the use of spaces, many services don’t allow such length, which can provide a security boost. Make sure you follow these tips to protect yourself from online scams.

You don’t use two-factor authentication


Here it is, the Big Bertha of security tips. Every time you log into a website or email client, you type the same ol’ string of characters—not exactly hacker-proof, especially if you use the same password across platforms. Two-factor authentication helps.

It’s basically what it sounds like: After typing your password, sites and services that use two factors ask you to present an additional piece of information. Most likely, you have a separate program or physical device, also known as a “token,” that presents randomly generated numbers and communicates with the website or software you’re accessing, allowing you an extra layer of security. Type your password, get the random numbers from your token, and type those in to move along.

Think a token sounds niche? Consider this: A few years ago, Blizzard—the gaming company behind massively successful titles like World of Warcraft and Diablo—introduced a $6.50 “authenticator” device for users in an effort to stop hackers from stealing items and in-game currency. Gmail offers a similar service, as do various other email clients and social networks. For more tips on cyber safety, check out these expert security tips that can keep you from getting hacked.