It is a hassle to keep track of all of your passwords. So, many people use the same username and password combination for all of their accounts. This, however, is a big mistake. All it takes is one hacker getting ahold of one of your accounts, and the rest of your accounts are now compromised. Thankfully, there is a pretty easy way around this…One way is a password manager and for those who don’t trust them, try below.
Creating Passwords that are Unique
The best passwords are 14 characters. Passwords that are shorter are statistically much easier to guess. If a site doesn’t allow a password that is 14 characters, you can adapt the following to fit:
Make a list of all websites you have a username and password for, and then make lists categorizing them. For instance, put all of your social media sites together, your email sites, your shopping sites, and banking sites.
Next, create an eight-character password. This will be used as the first part of every password that you create. For instance, it might look like this:
Next, look at your categories. Create a three-character password for those. So, you might do this:
- Social media sites – SM$
- Email sites – @eM
- Shopping sites – $ho
- Banking sites – BaN
Finally, the last three characters of the 14-character password will be specific to the website.
Let’s say you are creating a password for your Facebook account:
Eight-character + three-character (category) + three-character (unique to site)
So, your password for Facebook would be:
This is now a very strong password ad for some of you that is much easier to remember. But not me, above doesn’t work for me. More in a minute…When you have to change your password in the future, you can keep the final six characters and just change the first eight.
So, how do you remember the first part of the password? One way is to just write it down in a secure location. Don’t keep in near the computer, though. Another thing that you can do is to create a passphrase, which makes it easy to remember a password.
Let’s use this phrase
“My sister asked me for milk and butter.” If you take the first letter of all of those words, you would have this:
This could be used as your eight-character common denominator.
You can even go further and make it more secure by swapping out some of the letters with numbers or symbols:
Now, the common part of the password is even more difficult to guess, yet still fairly easy to remember. You can also use this method for the shorter part of the password, or even come up with your own methods for password success.
Oh and that “in a minute” comment…just use a password manager and forget the above madness. My password manager created this: *zWo5j!wUxCVWV and it means nothing and I’ll never remember it because my password manager serves as my memory now.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.