6 Tips for Memorable and Secure Passwords

January 12, 2014

You're probably groaning and rolling your eyes already, but most of us have that voice in the back of our minds when we read password advice, always reminding us about that bad password we continue to use.

It seems like too much hassle to change passwords on all your usual websites and applications, and you're probably worried about forgetting your password if it's too secure.

It is possible to create a password that will satisfy your system admin at work or the password strength checkers online.

Here are some tips to help you choose a password that is both memorable and secure.

1. Use a phrase instead of one word.

The easiest way to make sure your password is hard to crack is by using an entire phrase, not just one word from the dictionary. It shouldn't be something common like "thisismypassword" or it will be easier to crack. Instead, try an unusual phrase that most people wouldn't know.

Use slang, punctuation, and capitals as much as possible.

For example, instead of "november12th" (a memorable date such as a birthday can make a password with numbers easier to remember, but also easier to crack), you could use "Myb-dayisNov12!" to make a much more secure password.

2. Use a password strength checker.

Try a website like howsecureismypassword.net or passwordmeter.com to make sure your password is secure enough. You can see the flaws or how you can easily improve your password by entering your current password or any passwords you're thinking of using.

Most websites will also rate your password with a strength checker when you're creating an account.

3. Make a unique password for each website.

If you have accounts on several websites, it's tempting to use one standard password for all of them. This is also a bad idea, as someone who accesses one account can easily find and access all of your accounts – email, social media, banking, and so on.

If you don't think you can remember unique passwords for every site, try adding the first letter of the website URL to your password. For instance, instead of "Myb-dayisNov12!" you would use the password "Myb-dayisNov12!f" for Facebook, "Myb-dayisNov12!t" for Twitter, and so on.

4. Use a password manager to remember them all.

It's always best to create unique passwords for each website, but if remembering them is daunting, a password manager such as LastPass can save your passwords and login information for every site automatically. You will still need to create a very secure master password, but once you have accessed LastPass, you don't have to worry about remembering dozens of individual and extremely secure passwords.

5. Don't sabotage yourself with poor security questions.

When you've gone to all the trouble of creating secure passwords, it's very important to protect your account by creating good security questions. Don't use the easiest questions like your mother's maiden name, your birthday, or the city where you were born. Instead, create your own security questions with answers that nobody else (or at least few people) would know.

6. Log off your session once you're finished.

The final tip, though the most obvious, is also one of the most important. Even if your password and security questions are solid, staying logged on will allow anyone to access your account and take it over. When you're finished with whatever you're doing, whether you're doing online banking or posting on Facebook, make sure you log off afterwards.

These tips will help you make sure that your accounts online are protected at all times. Don't risk your personal information, business reputation, and beloved data and documents by choosing poor passwords. It's worth setting aside a few hours one weekend day to make sure that all of your passwords are secure.

by on January 12, 2014

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