Sometimes we are not a secure as we should be because we use easy to remember passwords. This describes an easy way to remember more secure passwords and gives other useful tips.
It came about from the visit from a friend of mine last week. We were talking about Internet security and passwords. I made a guess at a password he might use which was the name of his son followed by the number eight (how old he was). By the shocked look of my friend’s face I knew that I had guessed right. (Actually I was one year out but the point was made). This was pure chance and was a very lucky guess and because I knew the person concerned. So I thought I would put together some hints and tricks which may help you be more secure and hopefully overcome the difficulties that many of us have, that is of remembering them.
First of all, things not to do.
Don’t use family names or personal information particularly if it is information that is readily available on social network sites such as Facebook.
Avoid famous quotations
Avoid popular song lyrics
Avoid names of famous people or celebrities.
Avoid complete words -or any words that could be found in any dictionary.
Do not store passwords in any kind of document on your computer.
Do not allow programs to ‘remember’ your passwords – I can hear you groaning at this stage because many of us use this facility. In the end it comes down to security. Never allow the program to remember passwords for critical banking or account information. If you do it for social sites for ease of connectivity be prepared that you may be open to ‘trolling’ ‘spamming’ or ‘phishing.’ By the way some e-mail clients save the password as a text document-I won’t even comment to how insecure that is!
Never, ever, use the same password for critical sites as you do for social sites.
Do not store passwords on portable devices such as mobile phones, tablets or laptops
Be very aware of your surroundings when inputting passwords in cybercafés, public spaces and shared offices.
Do not write down passwords and keep them in handbags (purses) or wallets.
Do not write passwords down and keep them on bits of paper or post-its next to the computer. Ok – You might be able to get away with this in your own home, particularly if you have a dedicated area which only you use. Just remember though, that if you are burgled, change your passwords!
Here now are a few ideas which will help you make your passwords more secure and even better give you the tools to remember them. Julian1234 is a poor password – I have seen worse someone I knew had the password bobbydog named a dog they had pictures of on Facebook. Ibi!!atGr8woC is a good password and by the end of reading this you will be able to create one like it and remember it.
But first some ‘do’s.’
Longer passwords are more secure than shorter ones. Most websites have a minimum and maximum length always aimed more towards maximum.
Use different passwords on different systems- you can even customise the level of security depending on what application you’re using if you want.
Change your passwords as often as you can. The ideal would be every month but we live in the real world and I know it can be a hassle to do this but I know some people have the same password for years. The longer it is in existence the greater the chance of it being hacked.
Use a combination of numbers, letters and if possible special characters. Note: you might need to check with various websites which characters are allowed and excluded. This is why. Ibi!!atGr8woC is such a good password as it uses all of the elements.
Over the years I have used and seen different techniques for remembering passwords. One method is to remember a combination from childhood that for some reason had got stuck in your memory. An old car registration number or place and telephone number for instance. I remembered the car registration of my grandfather’s car was 1527pp, so GF1527pp was quite good password and easy to remember. The prefix GF by the way stood the grandfather.
Another method is keyboard shapes. I am a visual person and I found this quite useful in the past. There are some obvious shapes and combinations. Avoid qwerty for obvious reasons. The same also applies for azerty which is the same thing but on a French keyboard. Doing diagonals from a start letter is a possibility. For instance, something based on grncy which is a cross shape from the letter G as a starting point. Look at your keyboard and you’ll see what I mean. Then add a numerical value (I have used the year of the moon landing) and a capital to become Grncy69 or grncY69. This is not a bad choice and certainly better than using bobbydog! Actually, when working with someone with learning difficulties I created a cardboard template that was placed over the keyboard to visibly give them shape to follow.
In the end, most of us find the use of mnemonics as a memory aid as one of the most useful tools. This is how I would remember the password. Ibi!!atGr8woC.
What is it stand for?
I became ill at the great wall of China.
To make it more difficult I changed it to I became ill at the Gr8 wall of China.
This translated to (I) ( b)ecame ( ill) (a)t ( t)he ( Gr8) ( W)all of (C)hina.
The final twist was to transpose the letter L in the word ill for two exclamation marks. This gives the password all the elements of a seemingly random sequence, a mix of upper and lowercase letters as well as special characters.
Try it. Make up a phrase that you can remember and manipulated in a similar manner. When you create it for yourself you will be surprised how easy it is to remember. In the end, you can never be 100% secure; but adopting these good practices will certainly minimise the risk. Keep safe.