Have you discovered the secret of creating secure passwords and yet being able to easily recall them at will without any outside help? Considering the frequency of data breaches these days, this is something that all internet users need to address in some way, whether that’s by developing a set of rules that ease both password generation and recalling them at will or by using a password manager.
If you have set up your own personal system to manage unique, randomized and unbreakable passwords, you can count yourself among a rare group of people who don’t use the same passwords over and over again.
For the rest of us there’s a long road ahead and we might never reach the end of it, but we all know that creating a safe password is essential – just consider the Deloitte breach. But the main issue here is not creating a safe password, it’s about remembering it; so here are some tricks to help make a strong password.
What Is a Secure Password?
A strong password obeys at least a dozen rules, but here are the main ones:
- It should be more than 12 characters long.
- It shouldn’t contain names, places, or dictionary words.
- It should use a mix of character sets, letters, numbers, and punctuation.
The longer the password, the more secure it is, but remembering 30-character long passwords without external help requires quite some ‘brain squeezing’. That’s why users tend to either reuse the same password or have a password pattern that helps them to create new passwords. The basis for such pattern is to use a core word or set of words and, for example, add the first and last letter of the name of the website, so a password for Facebook might look like this: “Fpassword1234!K”.
Such password patterns are easily recognized and cracked by password guessing software, and – more recently – by hackers using neural networks. To make unique, random and secure passwords memorable, a trick needs to be used. Luckily there are already a few methods to try.
Bruce Schneier’s Method
American cryptographer, CTO at IBM Resilient, and board member of EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) Bruce Schneier suggests a very easy method that we recommend to all internet users: take a memorable sentence and turn it into a password. It can be a line from a song, a quote from your favorite book or the like. Take the words from that sentence and combine the characters in a way to form a password.
For example: “I want to break free” (Queen) = 1W@tBr3aKfeR!
The PAO Method
The Person-Action-Object (PAO) method was developed by Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists and has the following theory as its basis: users need to first select an interesting place, secondly select a photo of a familiar or famous person, and then lastly imagine a random action of that person with a random object.
For example: Drake eating jellyfish in Carpool Karaoke.
To prevent a successful hack using password guessing software, you can take only the first three letters from each word to form a password such as DraE@tJellC@RkaR. It can be made even harder to crack by replacing some letters with other numbers or punctuation.
Tweaked Random Password Generation
Visit a random password generation site and generate a handful of at least 10- or 12-character passwords. Type them into a text editor file, and see if you can combine sections of them into a password that makes sense in your head.
Using a Password Manager
Now that you have the strong password, the final step remains: avoid reusing the same password. As the number of necessary online accounts grow, this becomes a harder and harder task, so using a password manager will simplify your life.
In fact, this way it’s only necessary to remember one set of credentials, the master password and account name that open the secure vault where all the passwords are stored. From that moment on, generating unique and strong passwords is just a few clicks away as this feature is typically included with the software. Remembering them will be the task of these services, though you will want to change all your weak or recycled passwords – starting with your email, social media accounts, Wi-Fi details, and more.
Retrieving the saved passwords is super easy: the majority of these services work on every major platform and integrate with the major browsers. Visit the desired web account and the login credentials will automatically appear in the login field while the password manager is open, ready to quickly and easily open the ‘door’ to your access. How convenient is that?
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