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How to Come Up with a Secure Password You’ll Actually Remember

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Passwords are required everywhere these days, which means that there are a lot of different passwords that you need to remember (assuming that you’re keeping to best practices and using a different one each time). Admittedly, this can be quite difficult to do. To help, we’ve decided to share a few tricks to make it easier for you, without undermining your security. The two major elements of a strong password are complexity and length. Fewer actual words, more letter substitution, and special characters increase complexity. The longer a password is the harder it is to crack.

Letter Substitutions
Let’s say every time that you would use the letter O you replace it with a zero. Replace the letter A with the symbol @ and maybe use the plus sign (+) instead of the letter T. Just remember that these are all common practices, so you still need to do more. Maybe replace only the first occurrence of an A with @. But keep reading….

Phonetic Substitution
Phonetic substitution can really add complexity to your passwords. The word “ate” can be represented with the number 8. “H@y8” could replace the word “Hate”. Be creative.

Password Frames
Another method is to build a complex password frame that you memorize and insert different objects into that frame. Then use a mnemonic as a password hint. Let’s say you really do not care for cats. You could build the password based on the phrase “I hate cats too!” or “iH@y8C@ts2!”. Ninety days from now (or sooner), when you change your password you might want to replace your dislike of cats with wombats, or “iH@y8W0mb@ts2!”. Since the “frame” is the “iH@t8(your choice)2!” you can just use “wombat” as a password hint. Even with the use of frames, you should still change your frame every few password cycles. Remember, the longer you make your password the harder it will be to break.

Using Mnemonics as Passwords Hints
A mnemonic device is a technique that is used to assist in remembering a specific set of information. The word mnemonic derives from Greek mnēmōn ("mindful"), which itself comes from the Greek word meaning "to remember." A mnemonic can be a single word or a phrase. Children are taught to “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” when learning the order of operations in arithmetic, because the proper order of operations to complete when solving a complex math problem is the following sequence: 

  • anything in parentheses
  • any exponents
  • any multiplication
  • any division
  • any addition
  • finally, any subtraction

Mnemonics can help you to create more secure passwords that are easier to remember. For instance, pet names are commonly used as passwords, despite being very easy for someone to figure out. So, if you are a dog owner, forget your own dog and think or your friend’s dog, Rover. Let’s say Sue’s dog Rover is a handsome Norfolk Terrier. You could take that phrase and turn it into “SdRiahNT”. Apply some letter substitution and a special character at the end and you might have “SdRi@hNT!”

Old Phone Numbers are a nice touch.
Many people are walking phone books, remember those? They have a knack for remembering phone numbers. So, you could build a password frame and then insert phone numbers you remember from years ago that are no longer in use. Like your childhood friend Bob, whose phone number was 672-5555. You could use the last 4 digits of the number in the password frame and the hint would be simply Bob or call Bob.

Taking Care of Your New Password
Now that you have a great password plan your passwords should be easier to remember. Avoid the temptation to write your passwords down – use hints or mnemonics as a memory aid.

Of course, you also shouldn’t share your new password with anyone else. Think of sharing passwords like taping the key of your brand-new sports car to the windshield when you park downtown. Your password works the same way – only it can be copied hundreds of times and sold on the Dark Web. Keeping your password to yourself eliminates this possibility.

Can you reuse passwords?
The security expert in me says never, but let’s face it, some websites we go to require a password but do not have any sensitive information to protect. This would be one of the few exceptions that I would utilize what I call a “trickle-down” password. I might consider using a great password that I have used for my accounting system in the past, which I know was never used on the web.

Call for More …
There you have it: a quick and easy guide to creating a better, more secure password for each of your accounts. Make sure you subscribe to our blog for more security best practices and business technology strategies! Wondering if your password is for sale on the Dark Web? Call us for a free evaluation, you would probably be shocked!

About Automation Concepts & Technologies, Inc.

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