Passwords can be a key to many things, for example your emails, your Facebook profile, or your bank account. Did you know that some people still use passwords like “password” or “123456”? Needless to say, it’s dangerous to use one and the same simple password for all of your online accounts. Imagine a hacker cracked that one password? To be safe, you should create unique and difficult to crack passwords.
So do you know how to create a good password? And how can you remember more than one of them? Here are some tips and tricks to maintain individual strong passwords for all of your online accounts.
Know The Characteristics Of A Safe Password
- it cannot be found in a dictionary.
- it contains special characters and numbers.
- it contains a mix of upper and lower case letters.
- it has a minimum length of 10 characters.
- it cannot be guessed easily based on user information (birthdate, postal code, phone number etc.)
Create An Easy To Remember Base Password
You can use several techniques how to create a good password that you will not forget. Here are some suggestions.
- Randomly replace letters with numbers, e.g. flirt becomes fl1r7.
- Pick a sentence, i.e. your passphrase, and reduce it to first letters of each word only, e.g. “Everything I Do I Do It For You” becomes EIDIDIFY.
- Take a word and reverse spell it, e.g. neighborhood becomes doohrobhgien.
These examples are not very safe. While none of the words can be found in a dictionary, they are still failing other characteristics of a safe password. Try to find a combination that allows you to incorporate all characteristics.
The base password I’m going to use for this password is “E1d_1D!4Y:)“.
Note that my base password meets all of the above criteria. It cannot be found in a dictionary, it contains special characters, a mix of upper and lower case letters, it is 11 characters long, and cannot be guessed based on my personal information (unless you suspect that I like Bryan Adams).
Be Creative & Think Out Of The Box!
A computer may calculate faster than you can recognize patterns a lot quicker than any human brain, but one thing it cannot do is be creative. That is your great advantage over hacker tools!
As you see, in my password I replaced some letters with numbers or special characters. However, I didn’t use a stiff set of rules. I replaced the “I” with a “1” or a “!”. Using rules for replacing characters, i.e. always replacing an “a” with the “@” symbol will weaken your password.
Here are some ideas how you can make it even harder for a hacker to crack your password:
- Don’t use common substitutions, e.g. @ for A/a.
- When you have recurring letters within your password, mix your substitutions, e.g. 8 or ( for B/b.
- Have a word and touch type it with your fingers in the etpmh (wrong) location. Keep in mind that you may switch keyboard types.
- Pick a pattern on your keyboard and type it with alternating use of the SHIFT key, e.g. Xdr%6tfCvgz/
Test Your Password
Do you want to make sure your password is indeed safe? [NO LONGER WORKS] The Password Meter will reveal details about the strengths and weaknesses of your password. However, if your password is too long, i.e. too safe, this test will actually fail.
Create Individual Passwords For Every Account
Once you have a strong base password, you can use it to create individual passwords for each of your online accounts. Simply add the first three letters of the service, e.g. “E1d_1D!4Y:)GMa” for your GMail account or “E1d_1D!4Y:)eBa” for eBay.
Be Super Safe
To be super safe, you should have TWO base passwords. They will be used to keep important and not so important accounts separate. You would use one password for sites which hold personal information or credit card details, such PayPal or GMail. The second password would be used for forums and similar sites that would not be of great harm if hacked. However, the passwords should be equally strong.
Update Passwords Regularly
This is the toughest part. To maintain safety with a strong password, you have to update your password every few weeks or months. The more often, the better. You can do this in several different ways. Here are some ideas that will keep it simple.
Change your base password only:
- Change the special character substitutions you’re using.
- Reverse use of upper and lower case letters.
- Type the password with SHIFT lock turned on.
Change entire password:
- Change how you identify the account you’re using, e.g. use the last three rather than the first three letters (GMa would become ail or eBa would become Bay).
- Change the position of the letters identifying the account, e.g. put them to the front or in the middle of your base password.
- Add the date of when you last changed the password at the back and mark it in your calendar.
In other words, use your human advantage: be creative and think out of the box.
If you don’t feel safe with “easy to remember” passwords, you will enjoy Stefan’s article on 5 Free Password Generators For Nearly Unhackable Passwords.
Do you have any additional tips on how to create a strong password?