Passphrases and Securing Your Accounts

image of person typing on keyboard

Passphrases are like keys to your personal home online. You should do everything you can to prevent people from gaining access to your passphrase. You can further secure your accounts by using additional authentication methods.


Passphrases can be inconvenient, but they’re important if you want to keep your information safe.

Protecting your personal information starts with taking security precautions, thinking about the consequences of your actions online and enjoying the internet with peace of mind. Here are some simple ways to secure your accounts through better passphrase practices.

  • Make your passphrase a sentence: A strong passphrase is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember. Add numbers or special characters to strengthen your passphrase. On many sites, you can even use spaces toward your passphrase.
  • Unique account, unique passphrase: Having separate passphrases for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passphrases.
  • Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a passphrase. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer. You can alternatively use a service like a passphrase manager to keep track of your passphrase.

Other Ways to Secure an Account

Typing a username and passphrase to access a website isn’t the only way to identify yourself on the web services you use.

  • Lock down your login: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passphrases are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.

Over time, more websites will be adopting strong authentication. In some cases, the services may be available but are not required.

Many email services offer two-factor authentication on an opt-in basis. Ask your financial institution, email provider and other online services if they offer this authentication method or additional ways to verify your identity.