We’ve all been told repeatedly about the dangers of weak passwords and using the same passwords for multiple sites. But, truth time, how many of us actually do anything about it?
As we use more and more tools online, the number of passwords we must remember keeps increasing. The thought of creating increasingly complex passwords for a multitude of sites can be beyond daunting. That’s why most of us default to using the same memorable passwords over and over.
But it is much easier than you think to create long, strong, cryptic passwords. The basics of a secure password are not that complicated:
- It needs to be long. Hackers can crack a 7-character password in .29 milliseconds. Meanwhile, a 12-character password would take 2 centuries to crack. 9-11 characters is ideal.
- It needs to be cryptic. A unique combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and characters. It also should not have any clear ties to your personal information. And ideally, it should not contain any dictionary words (it’s actually called a dictionary assault). The reason for this is that hackers have tools that allow them to scan dictionary words at incredibly fast speeds.
The trick to creating a hard-to-crack password is making it memorable, but difficult to guess. There are a simple set of skills to help.
Use memorable phrases with shortcuts
Think of a phrase that means something to you. It could be a favorite line from a book, a silly phrase you will remember, or one that refers to a specific site. (For example, “We’re all in this together” could be for a social networking site.)
Once you get your phrase in mind, you will write it out using shortcut codes. Here are some examples:
- 2BorNot2B_ThatIsThe? (To be or not to be, that is the question)
- 4Score&7yrsAgo (Four Score and seven years ago from the Gettysburg Address)
- 14A&a41dumaS (One for all and all for one from The Three Musketeers by Dumas)
- Idm4D(!)2wa8AoM (I drive my 4 dragons (!) to work at 8AM on Monday)
Use common elements customized for each site.
You can use a consistent style, but vary up elements to help you remember which site it is for. Once you’ve learned the first sections, you can tailor the end for each new site.
- GNA_get_axss2_AMZ! (Gonna get access to Amazon)
- GNA_get_axss2_$$ (Gonna get access to your bank account)
- Log_in2_my_Fb! (Log into my Facebook)
Use symbols to create emoticons that are easy to remember.
While there are few sites that let you use emojis, you can use their predecessor, the emoticon to help create a unique password.
Using the symbols allowed by most websites, you can make:
- : ) Smiley Face
- 8) Smiley Face 2
- : ( Frowning Face
- =( Frowning Face 2
- 8( Frowning Face 3
- :< Mustache
- ; ) Winking face
- : D Laughing
- :0 Surprised Face
- <3 Heart
You can incorporate these into your phrases to help you add complexity that is easy to remember.
- I<32:)and:Danytime! (I love to smile and laugh anytime!)
- I_H8_:<sthatR:( (I hate mustaches that are sad)
Using these tips can help you created strong, cryptic passwords that are not impossible to remember.