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Secure Passwords

Friday, January 25th, 2008 by | Filed Under: Security Help
 
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Q:
So many programs and Web sites require me to have complex passwords. I feel like I have to write them down to remember them, but that doesn’t seem safe either. Is there any way to make a complex password I won’t forget?

A:
That is a great question! It does seem like password requirements get more and more difficult to meet as the need for better security continues to climb in the computer world. Most Web sites these days require you to have a password with at least eight characters, while one of those characters must be a number or a symbol and there must be at least one capital letter. Gee whiz!

Although there are a lot of requirements to meet, I am going to add a few more suggestions for you. In order for a password to be truly secure, there should be no words of any kind in the password. It shouldn’t simply be a word with a number at the end and you shouldn’t just capitalize the first letter of the password. If you do, your password could be cracked within seconds!

So, you ask, “How in the world can I come up with a password I can remember with all of these requirements?” Well, there is a very good way to do this! It will allow you to come up with a password that is easy to remember and you can even write down a hint, without giving the password away on paper. Are you interested?

Then here’s how to do it!

First, come up with a word. It can be something like a pet’s name, a city or anything else you want to use. For my example, I will use my hometown of Toledo.

Second, find some characters you can use to replace some of the letters. I will replace “o” with “0” and “l” with “1.” So, now I have T01ed0.

Third, since Toledo is only six characters, I will need to add some more characters. I will add “AB.” This makes my password T01ed0AB.

Now, this is a secure password, but it may be kind of hard to remember. So, to help you remember your password, you can write down a hint. The hint will be just enough to jog your memory, but not enough to give the password away. For the hint, write something you will remember the word by, plus the extra characters and the replacement characters.

Here’s how I would write my hint for T01ed0AB: City 01AB

That way, you know the password is the name of a city, the replacement characters are 0 and 1 and the extra characters are AB. That should be enough to remind you of your password, but not enough for someone else to guess what it is. Cool, huh?!

Until next time, stay safe out there, my friends!

~Gary

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