How to Create Strong, Easy-to-Remember Passwords

Previously I’ve written about how to protect yourself from credit and debit card fraud. Just last week, LinkedIn confirmed that their site was hacked and member passwords were compromised.

The scary thing about the situation is that, no matter how many times we read about sites being accessed, we see a long list of poor passwords that people choose to use.

Top 10 Hacked Passwords

Forbes posted a list of the top 10 hacked LinkedIn passwords:

  1. sex
  2. ilove
  3. the
  4. angel
  5. 12345
  6. job
  7. god
  8. work
  9. 1234
  10. link

Really, people, really? Please tell me that none of you use the word “the” as your password?!?

Now, I totally get that the easy way to remember your passwords is to create a simple one to remember, but it is just not the smart thing to do.

You could use a password management system that keeps track of your passwords and use it to also generate strong passwords for you. Or you can create a system for generating strong passwords that are easy for you to remember.

I recommend a combination of the two: a method of generating strong passwords AND a place to store your passwords…securely and in one place.

Today I want to focus on the method of generating strong passwords.

What are the Components of  a Strong Password?

Lifehacker posted a great infographic on how to avoid a weak password:

Don’t be intimated by the image above. In short, a strong password contains a combination of letters (upper and lowercase), numbers, and special characters and should not form a “real” word or name.

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A Methodology for Creating Kickass Passwords

When you create a method that sets the parameters for how passwords are generated, you can duplicate the method for all your websites and recall your passwords from memory.

I recommend a methodology that incorporates the first letter of each word from a favorite phrase, quote, song, etc., PLUS some letters from the website you are generating the password for PLUS a number PLUS a special character. In formula format, this would be expressed as:

Letters from Website Name + Letters from Quote + Number + Special Character

Your methodology may put these items in a different order.

Let’s look at an example for creating a strong password for a Facebook account.

I choose to use the first and last letter of the website in the password at the beginning of the password. In the case of Facebook, that would be the letters “Fk.”

Since a strong password should include a capital letter, be sure to use a capital F.

One of my favorite lines from the movie Coming to America is “This is beautiful. What is that, velvet?” Taking the first letter of each word would result in the letters tibwitv.

I would use the letters “tibwitv” in every password I create.

Your choice of a number and special character could be based on the first letter of the website’s name. If the letter begins with a consonant, the number 1 and the number sign (#) are used. Conversely if the name of the website begins with a vowel, the number 2 and an exclamation point (!) is used.

Confused? Let’s look at it another way:

Password needed for: Facebook

Favorite Line: This is beautiful. What it that, velvet? (from Coming to America)

 

Item Methodology Example
Website name First and last letters of website’s name Fk
Letters from quote First letter of each word from favorite quote tibwitv
Number Based on first letter of website name.If consonant = 1If vowel = 2 1
Special Character Based on first letter of website name.If consonant = #If vowel = ! #

 

Based on this system, your password would be Fktibwitv1#

PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS EXACT SYSTEM! Create your own!

This system has all the characteristics of a strong password in an easy to remember format.

Final Words

Your online security is extremely important. Don’t settle for a simple / easy to hack password. A good methodology for generating passwords is a great step towards protecting yourself online.

For your viewing pleasure, I have included the YouTube video of the scene from Coming to America.

[vsw id=”w-eb61BLIWw” source=”youtube” width=”360″ height=”240″ autoplay=”no”]

 

 

 

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