Choosing a Safe, Memorable Password

Choosing a Safe, Memorable Password

Here are tips on how to choose safe and memorable passwords.  It’s easier than you think with a system.  Be aware that 90% of passwords can be broken in 20 minutes or less because we choose public information or simple patterns like 123456.

Choosing a Safe, Memorable Password | ACT TWO Magazine4 Rules for a Secure Password:

  1. At least 8 characters long
  2. Combination of letters and numbers
  3. At least one capital letter
  4. Avoid public information (no birth dates, family names)

Write the password down before you type it so there’s no chance of making a mistake. Underline the capital letter (s vs S) Slash zeros (Ø) so you don’t mistake it for the letter O Add a hook and a platform on the number one (1) vs the letter L

Mix-and-Match Your Passwords

My theory is you only need ONE core password to build all passwords off of so you can remember it.  The password should be memorable for you, but not easily guessed.

Here are some sample passwords that, when translated, anyone can remember:

gr8ShØeS = great shoes

Dont4g3t = don’t forget

sKØØbsdiK = kids books (backwards)

I’m not suggesting you use the above, but let them inspire you.  What is it that you love to do, buy, or eat?  Use gr8 as a suffix to that thing.  Use 4 for the word “for.”  Flip a 3 to replace an E.  Use zero (Ø) for the letter O. No matter how speedy a typist you are, type the password one finger at a time to be sure you get it right.

Choosing a Safe, Memorable Password | ACT TWO Magazine

You can use one password for all of your email addresses.  If one email account gets compromised, you’ll change them all. There should be one password for banking and banking alone to make your banking password the most secure. And then one core password for ALL OTHER WEBSITES.  

A core password that will be easy for you to remember, but slightly different for every website. Let’s work with the password gr8ShØeS.  That is our core password and will be used for all email addresses.  For banking we want something relating to gr8ShØeS, but not the same.  How about HighH33ls?  It meets the 4 rules.

Now onto the password for EVERYTHING else…  Website addresses don’t change.  AskAbbyStokes.com will always be AskAbbyStokes.com, facebook.com will always be facebook.com, and usps.gov will always be usps.gov.  So, let’s work with that. Take your core password—gr8ShØeS.  Choose the first two letters of the website you’re visiting and add them in some way to your password.  

Here’s an example: Choosing a Safe, Memorable Password | ACT TWO Magazine

AskAbbyStokes.com = asgr8ShØeS

I’ve added the first two letters of the website as the first two letters of its password.

facebook.com = gr8ShØeSfa

I could add the first two letters of the website to the end of the password.

usps.gov = gur8ShØesS

I could embed the first two letters into the password—second from the beginning and second from the end. Got it?  So you only have to remember the core password and whatever your “trick” is.  And your trick can be much more complex than the samples above.  Write down one sample for yourself so you don’t forget.

Okay.  Our last hurdle.  How to tackle changing all your passwords? Don’t think about changing ALL your passwords at once.  You’ll never start if it seems too hard to finish.  First change your email passwords and your banking password.  Then, whenever you naturally visit the rest of the websites with a password, change it.  Roll it out at your convenience… at least you’re getting it done. Now you have NO EXCUSES.  

Go forth and make your cyber life more secure.  

By Abby Stokes

 
 
Abby Stokes’ column, Tech Tutor, appears regularly in ACT TWO.  She is the author of “Is This Thing On?” A Friendly Guide to Everything Digital for Newbies, Technophobes, and the Kicking & Screaming and its companion website AskAbbyStokes.com. Send any tech questions to abby@AskAbbyStokes.com.
 

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