Creating strong passwords you can actually remember
The second you leap into solopreneur life, your passwords start to accumulate like dust bunnies under a couch. So how can you create unique strong passwords that are hard to crack but don't need the ability to memorise the Yellow Pages or need online vaults?
We all know we ‘should’ have strong passwords that are unique on each site we visit. Right? It’s sort of like knowing that we are should floss after each meal, get enough sleep and not drink too much coffee (… is six a day too many?)
The problem is – if you create such a password for every site that requires one, you can never remember them. Which generally means resorting to an online password vault to do it for you.
I still use my Norton vault, but it has a nasty habit of not working for a few days when Norton updates, as the password keeper bit doesn’t always update with Norton 360. Three days without your list focusses your attention on the problem.
And even if it is working, you are not always in easy reach of your password keeper. Fumbling with your phone to access something while trying to catch your kids who have taken off after someone with blonde hair that they swear is Elsa is not the stuff of parenting bliss.
"Use the first letters of a common phrase to form strong, unique passwords."
So today, I’m going to share with you my secret trick for creating strong passwords you can actually remember. But first …
A few quick do’s and don’ts on passwords
- The longer the better. The longer they are, the harder they are to crack.
- No number sequences. 123456
- No dictionary words. If you can find the word in a dictionary, then the hackers’ computers can find it in your computer.
- No names, petnames and birthdates.
- Don’t use the same password across multiple sites.
- The best passwords have a combination of letters, capitals, numbers and symbols.
Now for my trick. It’s the phrase that pays.
I struggled with this problem for years until I discovered a super easy lifehack by Bruce Schneider and added my own little twist to it.
All you need to create unique super strong passwords for every site is a single phrase that pays.
Rather than trying to remember 300+ passwords, you just have to remember one sentence. Even my frazzled brain can remember that!
Step 1: The Phrase
Figure out a phrase that is relevant to you and can be applied to multiple situations.
For example, I love Dr Who, so my phrase could be
Dr Who visits Facebook seven times a week.
I would then swap Facebook with Twitter for my Twitter password base.
Dr Who visits Twitter seven times a week.
Dr Who visits Pinterest seven times a week.
Can you see how cool this is!
Step 2: Convert to Letters
The trouble is that’s an awful long sentence to type. So simply take the first letter of each word, keeping the capitals where relevant.
Dr Who visits Facebook seven times a week becomes the letter string – DWvFstaw. You just say the sentence in your head and type in the first letter.
Step 3: Swap a Letter for a Number
You need to add in at least one number for super strength. Our phrase already has a number in there – seven – which makes it easy to swap out the word seven for 7.
Step 4: Add a Symbol
The last bit is to add in a symbol or symbols. The easiest option is to add in a few ## or $$ at the beginning or the end and you are good to go.
Your password for Facebook becomes
And your unique password for Twitter becomes
They are super complex and as long as you remember your one phrase that pays you are ready to tackle the world.
And the even better bit? If you have to change your passwords, all you need to do is change the symbols while keeping your phrase that pays.
Don’t you love a good lifehack!