How strong is your password? Secure passwords are often seen as too difficult to remember. Wouldn’t you like to know how to create a strong password you’ll never forget?
Passwords protect much of our privacy and personal safety. Which is why it’s worth being completely sure of your password security.
But for most of us changing passwords is a major pain in the neck. A time consuming chore, usually forced upon us by an IT manager at work, and neglected at home, where we can conveniently sidestep the issue.
A lot has been written about how you ought to set strong passwords, and avoid the weak ones.
And still, many people stick to easy ones – such as consecutive numbers, a pet’s name or even just the word “password”, all of which frequently appear in “popular password lists”.
Which is understandable – because they’re very easy to remember.
The problem with common passwords
Most of us understand that using the password “123456” is just plain careless. Yet it was found to be the most common password for the fifth year running, in a survey by SplashData, which collates passwords from data breaches in America and Western Europe.
Hackers trying to access an account protected by such a password would get past it almost instantly.
While most of us have probably never had an account compromised, we hear and read about it a lot.
Interestingly, most people tend to blame technology rather than themselves when it comes to security breaches.
However, most security incidents hinge on the human factor.
In one study of 150,000 test emails sent to two of its security partners, researchers at Verizon Enterprise Solutions found that 23% of recipients opened the email, and 11% clicked on the attachment, which under normal circumstances would have carried a payload of malware.
So no matter how you slice it, if you want to be on the safe side you need to change your passwords regularly. But then again you may wonder: How do you go about creating strong yet memorable passwords?
How to create a strong password
In general passwords need to be made up of more than one word – with some cryptic characters mixed with long phrases.
Ending up with passwords such as “Mi$un’sBrthd8iz12124” or maybe “F10wer5kyCake“.
Yes I know, no one will be able to remember that – and that is precisely the point.
And it would take a computer 4 sextillion years to crack that first one, according to How Secure Is My Password? Which is pretty good going.
And now let’s get to the magic part – building these in ways we won’t forget. Both of these passwords were built according to two different patterns that will make it fairly easy for you to remember what they are:
- Create an sentence from an easy-to-remember piece of information that is personal to you. For example, “My son’s birthday is 12 December, 2004”. Using that phrase as your guide, you might use Msbi12/Dec4 for your password
- Substitute numbers, symbols, and misspellings for letters or words in an easy-to-remember phrase. For example, “My son’s birthday is 12 December, 2004” could become “Mi$un’sBrthd8iz12124”
- Alternatively, relate your password to a favorite hobby or sport. For example, I love to play badminton could become “ILuv2PlayB@dm1nt()n”
- Random words
- Take multiple random words with no logical or grammatical connection but that have some meaning to you and place them behind each other. For example: “FlowerSkyCake”
- Replace letters with numbers or special characters or add additional characters: “F10wer5kyCake!”
I know these tips will not make all of the pain that comes with using strong passwords go away. But they do provide some significant ease.
What are your tips for creating strong passwords? Let me know in the comments section below.