A client called me today about changing passwords for their business hosting accounts and business email accounts. There was a security concern in the office and all the passwords would need to be changed. I advised on some best practice when it comes to web hosting and email security. One of the bits of information was some ideas on how to create a secure password. Here is some of that information which can hopefully help you too.
If you're like me you have a multitude of passwords you need to remember. Like mine, your long and distinguished password list includes passwords for websites, email accounts, your computer, your phone etc. But how do you create a secure password? And even more important - how do you create a secure password that you'll actually remember?
Security Is Vital
Just this past few months there have been major security concerns on the internet. The Heartbleed bug was most notable. It was interesting to note that at about that time Google announced that it was giving higher search engine rankings to websites that were secure (HTTPS). That was a huge consideration for anyone concerned about website rankings and security. If you've ever suffered a security breach like having a website hacked or perhaps an email account invaded you'll know how important maintaining security is. More often than not good security starts with a secure password.
How To Create A Secure Password (You'll Remember)
Anyone can quickly create a secure password that will be next to impossible to break. Trying to remember that awfully secure password is another matter entirely. Try remember a password that looks like this: AKs*_382/.#$@3 <--- Good luck with that. The trick is as follows.
1) Sort Your Passwords Into Groups
By sorting I simply mean look at all the instances you are using passwords and lump them together. A example group could be:
- Banks and financial institutions - HIGHEST SECURITY
- Work email login, SARS (revenue service) login. - INTERMEDIATE SECURITY
- Social media login like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc. - NORMAL SECURITY
- Random websites you may visit e.g. an online discussion forum or a support website or online dating site etc. - LOW SECURITY
2) Create Memorable Passwords Using Phrases
Make sure they're sentences or phrases you are familiar with and having meaning to you. That way you'll never forget them. Let me explain via an illustration. Let's assume you're a runner training for the Comrades Marathon. You want to complete the Comrades Marathon because for the last 2 years you have participated but have not completed it. Using that, a really cool phrase could be "complete the comrades". But as it, that is awfully insecure. This is where the fun starts, let's play with that phrase as follows:
- All the O's can be substituted out for zeros like this: c0mpletethec0mrades.
- The e's look like 3's so let's substitute those with 3's and we have: c0mpl3t3th3c0mrad3s.
- The s look like 5's so let's substitute those out and we have: c0mpl3t3th3c0mrad35.
- The a looks like an @ so let's substitute it out and we have: c0mpl3t3th3c0mr@d35.
- And how about changing the case of words e.g. every first letter can be uppercase like so: C0mpl3T3th3C0mr@d35.
- Or every last letter can be uppercase. Or every last letter of the last word only. Or how about everything uppercase and only the first letter of each word lowercase... it can go on forever.
You can mix it up any way you wish and come up with a very secure set of passwords.
3) Assign A Password To Each Group
After you've created your secure passwords, assign one to each group. And voila, you're done. Instead of having to remember hordes of passwords, you only have to remember a handful, perhaps four or five at most.
The beauty of this system is how easy it is to update. Let's say you wanted to change all your passwords in a month, you only have those few to update. Each time you log in to a specific website you can update each websites password to your new one for that group.
Now you know how to create a secure password you'll never forget!
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