It seems that every website you visit nowadays needs an account and a password to access. From social media to news sites with paywalls to online banking, everything is protected by a string of letters and numbers.

If you’re like most people, you avoid the hassle of remembering a complicated password by creating a simple one, using it for everything and saving it on your browser’s “keychain” or similar tool. While doing so is highly convenient, this practice can quickly turn into disaster.

A recent report showed just how vulnerable we make our data through weak passwords. There are a few passwords that are commonly used throughout the country, but are incredibly easy to guess. Of the most common passwords, the top five are:

1. 123456
2. password
3. 12345678
4. qwerty
5. 12345

If you use one of these passwords, or another one that is pretty easy to guess (like “football” or “starwars”), it’s time to change it. This is especially true if you have a weak password guarding your personal information, or the data of your customers.

Tips for a Strong Password
When it comes to personal data, either your own or that of your customers, the stronger your password, the better. According to experts, there are a few ways you can make sure your password is as strong as it can be.

First off, the length of the password is crucial. A 12- to 15-character password that is all lowercase letters is more secure than an 8-character one filled with random symbols and numbers. However, a long one with special characters is even better.

Of course, a password that’s just the first 12 letters of the alphabet isn’t exactly secure. Keep your password weird. Common phrases like “maytheforcebewithyou” can be easily guessed by hackers. Anywhere you can add in symbols or numbers, do it. Just don’t bunch them up at the beginning or end of the password — i.e., “maybeforcebewithyou2016”.

Once you have your password, use it only for one account. Every site or application that requires a login should have a different password. After all, if you use the same one across the board, a hacker who guesses right suddenly has access to everything.

Fingerprints Are Even Better
From smartphones to tablets to even some laptops, fingerprint scanners are becoming more and more popular. Your fingerprint is one of the most secure verification tools on the planet. No two are exactly alike, and you always have it with you. While it is technically possible to steal a fingerprint, it is much more difficult than stealing an actual password.

Whenever you can, use your fingerprint instead of a password. There are external scanners you can buy for your desktop or laptop that doesn’t have one built in.

Keeping your customers’ data secure is one of the most important — and, at times, difficult —parts of running a small business. But by making sure your passwords are extremely tough to guess, or even by using a fingerprint scanner instead, you can better ensure your customers that their personal information is safe.