We now know that “password,” “I love you,” and “123456“ are some of the most common passwords in use. If you are still using a similarly weak password, it’s time to change to one that’s so secure and unguessable that it stumps even the cleverest of computers, robots, and devious humans. Here are a few tips to creating a secure and memorable password:
1. Security technologist Bruce Schneier suggests constructing a password from a sentence, such as “This little piggy went to market,” which might become “tlpWENT2m“. Or “wizard, you shall not pass“ might become “wUshallNOTp.” I wouldn’t advise constructing one from “hackmeifyoucan,” though. That’s tempting fate.
2. Or, take a line of a song and use the initial letters of each word. “You know you make me wanna shout” would become “ukuMAKEMEws.” Don’t choose a catchy song. It might give the game away if you start singing Shout every time you log on for no apparent reason.
3. If you have to pick a number to go in your password, steer clear of addresses – and birthdays. Pick a number that means something to you but isn’t so blatantly obvious. Use the latest unemployment figures, or the number of miles from your desk to your favorite place, or the temperature at which a pigeon would spontaneously combust.
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4. Don’t let your browser remember the password for you. A browser cannot be trusted – it’s open to hackers, and if your computer is stolen, your passwords are as good as plastered on the screen. Anyone who has ever left their Facebook page open with cheeky friends around has felt the sting of a wide-open browser.
5. A nonsense word made up of several words is another winner for a secure password. If I felt like recalling the months of the year with 30 days, I could make my password SeApJuNo. But length is an advantage. The longer the password, the more secure, so don’t be afraid to smoosh together as many words as you like. For example, if my family members were Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Marge, and Homer, my password could read BaLiMaMaHom.