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Passwords You CAN Remember


Everyone has problems with passwords. There`s a password for everything you do, and you have to change them so often! It can cause a ton of headaches. Luckily, there`s a way to remember that mess, especially if you have the luxury of creating your own passwords. Besides using mnemonics or other memory tricks, the best thing to do is to create easy to remember (yet secure!) passwords in the first place.

The secret to making passwords you will actually remember is threefold: One, you should repeat passwords. Two, you should make passwords that are really secure so that rotating them is just an added precaution; by using words to make your passwords, so they are a lot more memorable than random characters.

picture from k-state.edu
picture from k-state.edu

To repeat passwords, I don`t mean you should use your one password for every program and site you work on. The best system is to probably have a few stock passwords that you rotate for each thing you need it in. I suggest having 10, as that is a good enough number to prevent a breach in security if someone finds out about one of your passwords. When you have a few stock passwords, you should change it up within each program which of those passwords you use. You should also only keep those passwords for six months ideally and a year at the absolute maximum, just to stay a little unpredictable. Hackers find it easy to guess passwords, so why make it even easier by keeping them all the same?!?

How can you make secure passwords that you will also remember? A lot of people use a ‘modified word’. You take a word, and choose one letter to capitalize, and one to be represented by a similar looking number. Many choose to capitalize the first letter of the modified word so that it works like any other proper noun, making it easier to remember for the average Joe. (Or at least the average English geek Joe.) It is usually easiest to make the second character the number-posing-as-a-letter, just so you can get all the abnormal characters out of the way at the beginning. An example of turning a number into a letter would be to use 8 in the pass-phrase I8mysocks; or using 3 in the password Gr3at, like a backwards cursive e.

If you are making a completely number based password, like for a pin number, you can use the same basic principle of the number-posing-as-a-letter system. If you have a five letter pin number to make, for example, you could use 13473, which looks a little like leave to my twisted mind. You can use whatever system of aliases for your numbers you want to, so this is actually a chance for numbers to be used creatively! (I bet you`ve been dreaming of that chance since Middle School!)

In an article in Time, I recently read that the first few digits (1,2,3,4) are far more commonly used than the second half, and the majority of people also use some significant date. You can do that, but so has everyone else, so a thief is really likely to steal your pin by pure guesswork! The better system is to put the date in backwards if you must use a date. Plug in day, month, then year instead of the hugely predictable year/m0nth/day pattern. You can also do something a little weird for your password, besides the letter masquerade. You could choose some figures that mean something to you, but not anyone else. You could use the year “Columbus sailed the ocean blue” or some other year that happen in past centuries, the year your favorite classic book was written (1893 for me!) or the number of bobby pins you use to make your favorite hairstyle. Really, the more random the idea, the more memorable and secure the password!

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