The web is a scary place. It’s full of hackers, hijackers and loonies. Here’s how to protect yourself.

#1 Be Unhackable

EVERYTHING lives in your email, so it’s critical to have a strong password for it. Here’s how to make one. Think of a phrase (like a refrain from a song, or some sentence you remember by heart) and make the first letters your password. Yes a personal acronym.

Example: “Billy Jean is not my lover, she’s just a girl who claims that I am the one” becomes bjinmlsjagwctiato – a 17 character password that’s impossible to break but ridiculously easy for you to remember. If you’re really smart, replace the O in the end with a 1 (one=1, get it?).

 #2 Create Unique Passwords

Having one password for each of your services is not enough. If one site’s database gets hacked, all of your logins will be at risk. You have to add a couple characters unique to each of your services somewhere in the password. For example, add the first vowel followed by the last consonant of the name of the site at the end of the password. So for Gmail, you’d add “al”. Capitalize them if you want to go crazy. Seem excessive? It’s not.

#3 Power Tools

If your appetite for security is still unsatisfied, use 1Password or LastPass. These services generate and securely store truly random, strong and unique passwords for each of your logins. Since this info is stored locally, they are nearly impossible for hackers to access. If you use multiple devices, you can sync the file via Dropbox. (Just make sure to have a really strong password for your Dropbox, using steps 1 and 2 above.)

#4 The Poor Man’s Backup

This tip is specific to the safety of your email and is still very important! Forward your email to another account. If you somehow lose your main email (whether your provider goes down or your account gets compromised), you’ll always have a copy of all your emails in another account.

#5 Be Smart, Just Be Smart

Another email based tip, but equally as important. Sending passwords or credit card information through email is NOT smart. You’ll notice that developers (i.e. people who know how the Internet works) never do it. Send part of it via SMS or Skype (you can delete a message on Skype after the recipient has read it). Please understand that none of the emails you send are private -just ask David Petraeus. Think of it this way, don’t send anything through email that you would not want displayed at the Super Bowl halftime show… oh awkward, does that still sting, Janet?