Your smartphone is your lifeline to family and friends, social media, and your data. It can entertain, keep your calendar and wake you up every day. 4 out of 5 consumers use their smartphone for shopping.

What comes along with computers, smartphones, and life in the digital age? Passwords. It’s hard to come up with good ones and remember them. Computer hackers and identity thieves love it when you use the same password for multiple accounts. Use your birthday or your kids’ name? Even better!

Most people create passwords with letters first and numbers second. For better online security, mix it up and put numbers or characters first in your passwords.

The latest standard to emerge for passwords, backed by experts and government agencies are passphrases. What’s a passphrase? Instead of a short, coded password like “tucson102”, create a passphrase such as “tucsoniswaytoohotinthesummer”.

Longer passwords or passphrases have more characters, making it harder for hackers to get into your accounts.

Carnegie Mellon has done several recent studies that confirm that passphrases are just as good for online security because many hacking programs are thrown off by the length of the phrase. The passphrase can also reduce the dreaded frequent password change that often happens between 60-90 days.

If you use the same, simple password for multiple accounts, considering changing your passwords to longer passphrases. Passphrases with more extended characters are harder to crack and break and hopefully, easier to remember. Check your passphrase by typing it into a Google search bar and see if the search engine can auto-complete it. If it does, it’s probably too familiar to use.

Computers and smartphones contain data that is the very blueprint of your life. If someone hacks into that, they can potentially take over your accounts, access personal your data and compromise your online security.

If you think you have been the victim of identity theft, visit for tips on what to do next.