Creating and remembering strong passwords

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With security breaches becoming more and more common, everyone needs to ensure they are using the most secure passwords for their online accounts as they possibly can. While this is great in theory, the problem comes with remembering these passwords. Here are some tips to help.


Create a strong phrase

It’s surprising how many people choose passwords that are easy for them to remember, such as ones containing obvious phrases, their partner, pet or children’s names, or their own name or birthdate. Yes, they may be easy to remember, but they’re also easy for hackers to crack. A better way is to think of a phrase that you will remember, such as a line from a song, movie or book, and then take the first letter of each word to make the foundation of your password. For example, this classic quote from The Princess Bride: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” would translate to mniimykmfptd. This is long enough to fulfil most password requirements and is not something that could be easily guessed.


Make your password stronger

However, you need more than that to make your password really strong and secure. You need to add some capitals, numbers and special characters.


To make it easier, capitalise the words that would already be capitalised in the phrase, such as names and words starting the sentence. That would now make it MniIMYkmfPtd. If there’s none of these, use a repeatable system such as capitalising nouns, or verbs, or whatever you choose.


Then add some numbers in. You could try a few strategies for this, such as adding the year of the movie/book/song, or changing certain characters to numbers, for example, changing ‘I’ to ‘1’, ‘S’ to 5 or ‘E’ to 3. Find a strategy that you’re likely to remember and apply it to all your passwords. In this case, our password now becomes Mn1IMYkmfPtd87 (changing the first ‘i’ to ‘1’ and with the year of the movie on the end).


Then to finish, add a special character in somewhere. You could use ‘@’ for ‘a’, ‘$’ for ‘S’, ‘!’ for ‘I’ or anything that makes sense for you. In this case I’ve added brackets around the year of the movie, so the password now is Mn1IMYkmfPtd(87).


And remember it

Easy, right? Now you have a super strong password that no-one will be able to guess. The secret is remembering it. You could use a password management program (such as Apple’s Keychain Manager or Dashlane) to keep track of all your passwords. Or you could write down a hint to your password somewhere – in this case I might write down ‘The Princess Bride’ to jog my memory about what the password is. And no-one reading your hint would be able to guess your password, so you’re safe to commit it to paper.


Make sure you use a memorable system to create your passwords, so that you have a way to create and remember strong passwords, without allowing them to be cracked by criminals. Good luck!