Coming up with passwords that you can remember but are also safe is no easy task. Try one or all of these different techniques to create a secure but memorable password.
Develop a Truly Random Password and Use a Mnemonic Device
- Use software or, less reliable but usually effective enough, simply jot down letters and numbers as they come to your mind.
- Focus on each letter of the password. A way to remember a randomized, assigned difficult password, like “tthertd” can be simple and fun. Think of a sentence where there is one word beginning with each letter of the password, for example, “tthertd” could be “terrible tigers have every right to drive.”
Develop an Algorithm
- Take the name of the website and then add the last four digits of a friend’s home phone number to the end. (Don’t use your own phone number, since a clever hacker could try the same algorighm in a dictionary attack.) The password for wikiHow might be “wikihow4588”. This is by way of example only because it is too easy for others to figure out but you would add your own personal twist. Maybe you would spell wikihow backwards. The more steps in your algorithm, and the more unpredictable each step is, the more secure your password.
Combine the Best of You
- Choose a favorite number (or two), a favorite word (or two), a favorite symbol (or two), and the first one or two symbols that come to mind when you see the web site address or the most prominent words on the sign-in page. Choose an order and put them all together into one long string.
Remove the Vowels
- Take a word or phrase and remove the vowels from it (e.g. “eat the cheeseburger” becomes “tthchsbrgr”).
Use the Keyboard
- If your password doesn’t use the Q, A, or Z, you can hit the key to the left of your password. Or to the right if you don’t use the P, L, or M. ‘speedracer’ goes to both sides, but ‘wikihow’ can become ‘qujugiq’ or ‘eolojpe’. Shifting things up a key, choose left or right. ‘wikihow’ becomes ’28i8y92′ or ’39o9u03′. Shifting up and to the left is slightly more intuitive. Adding the other security measures afterwards is all trivial.
Combine Small Words
- A smart way to devolop a secure, easy to remember password is to combine three small words to a password. E.g. you can use “howstopyes” or “earpengold”. If you want an even easier to remember password you can use words that are related to each other like “yesnomaybe”. This is less secure! Additional tip: make the first letters of the different words capital: “ballzonecart” becomes “BallZoneCart”
Connect the first letters
- Develop a password using the first letters of a sentence or phrase that means something to you – like your national anthem or a slogan you have seen some where. ‘Dont shop for it, Argos it’ would become DsfiAi.
Use a Password Manager
- Use a password manager, such as PasswordSafe or Roboform to generate random passwords and then secure them using one master password.
- Choose two words and combine their letters to create the password, choosing one letter of the first word and one letter of the second word, and repeating this until you get to the last letter of each word. An example could be:
- Words: house & plane
- Password: hpoluasnee
- Choose a favorite passage out of a favorite book and use a word from the passage. For example, if your favorite book is “The Eye of the World”, by Robert Jordan, and your favorite passage is the second paragraph on page 168, use a word from that passage. You can use the word Draghkar. So you would put 2Draghkar168. 2 is the paragraph number and 168 is the page number.
- To mix it up even more, use symbols in place of letters and use capitols. 2Dr@Gh@R168.
- When coming up with a mnemonic sentence, try and make the sentence funny or relevant to yourself. That way you will remember the sentence so you can remember the password.
- The more complex and longer the password, the less likely it is to be cracked but it is often proportionately harder to remember.
- Mixing letters and numbers is always safer than just using numbers or just using letters.
- You might combine several of these methods and still come up with a truly memorable yet very strong passphrase. You might use a favorite quotation, song lyric, or the advertising slogan you despise most (preferably six words long or more) and create an acronym by using the first letter of each word (Where Would You Like To Go Today = wwyltgt). You can introduce character-word substitutions, like replacing the ‘y’ (for the word ‘you’) with a ‘u’ or ‘U’, which would give us wwUltgt. Maybe you would substitute some numbers for characters (as in ‘leet’ = ‘1337’). Now your passphrase might resemble wwU17g7 or wwU1797. Add standard rules for your personal method such as always capitalizing the first character (or the second, the third, the seventh, whichever tickles you), or inserting an exclamation point after the second character (left out for those sites that do not allow punctuation). Now, you would have Ww!U17g7 or WwU1797, or some such, as a very secure, yet personally memorable passphrase. Using such a method, “Rock on with your bad self” might be transformed into R0!wy85, r0_wY8$, r0Wy_8$, or any number of others.
- If you prefer to have a word that has no symbols or numbers in it, the best thing is for it not to be a word in the dictionary, like ‘wazzup’. Also, you can simply substitue letters so it still can sound the same, like this: Crazy = Kraizee. This is not too challenging.
- The most secure passwords contain lowercase letters, capital letters, numbers, AND symbols. This sounds like a bit of a chore — but there is an easy way to make all of your passwords fully mixed and more secure: use one of the above methods to create a password with both letters and numbers, and then hold down the shift key while typing part of it. Make a standard of holding down shift for the first four characters, or characters three through seven, or whatever you like. You won’t have to stop and remember where you inserted that pesky exclamation point or whether you replaced the ‘s’ with ‘5’ or ‘$’ this time.
- If you say the letters or numbers to you’re self as you type them you will begin to get a rhythm this will help to memorize it.
- If you are so inclined, scripture references can make good passwords. Choose a passage you can remember, and use the reference for your password. An example would be to choose the Beattitudes and use Matt5:1-12 for your password.
- Do not use any of the passwords listed above. Because they have been listed here, they are now bad passwords.
- Don’t use common words and numbers as your password.
- When using numbers only, make sure the sequence is completely random and has no importance. It’s best not to use any number that is a matter of record, such as phone, address, and Social Security numbers.
- Do not use the same password for several logons, especially if they involve sensitive financial or other personal information.
- Do not rely on replacing letters with numbers for security. Password cracking programs break these passwords as easily as the words themselves.
- Do not simply combine two or more dictionary words even if you think they are rare. Many password crackers try combinations of dictionary words first.