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How to create a password that’s easy to remember & hard to guess

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on Feb 24, 2015 8:25:00 AM

computer-log-in-screenBreaches, scams, fraud, identity theft. These words are all over the news and, sadly, have affected millions of people. Unfortunately, these crimes will not be going away anytime soon. Therefore, this week’s blog will focus on another way you can protect yourself.

Do you ever think about how secure your passwords are? You should. Passwords are vital in protecting your home computers, as well as your bank accounts and credit cards. Because of that, passwords can cause a fair amount of consternation if you have to remember so many of them.

One way to solve this dilemma is to develop a method/scheme to create passwords that are easy to remember but hard for others to guess. Here are just a few suggestions for devising a password.

  • Use a password scheme that contains the same characters across all of your passwords with other characters unique to the site you’re logging onto. For example, if you’re a dog lover and use the stock symbol (or some other way to represent the company), you might devise a password for Yahoo that’s "yhoodog2015."
  • Use a passphrase and turn it into a password. "A Coke and a smile" could be "aCokeAndaSmile."
  • Create a compound word using a couple of small words. "My dog Odie" might become "MyDogOdie."
  • Take a word or phrase and remove the vowels from it. "Fly like an eagle" becomes "flylkngl."
  • Pick a memorable word or name and a number that’s the same length as the word and intermix them. "Kennedy" plus "1234567" is now "K1e2n3n4e5d6y7."

In addition to these suggestions, mixing upper and lower case letters in your password is always a good idea, and adding special characters (i.e., @, $, !, etc.) within the password to make it harder to guess or hack. Just do it in a way that’s easy for you to remember, like replacing each letter S with a $ or a 5. To make your password even stronger, remember that longer is better

The table below better illustrates how these methods can strengthen your password. It lists various passwords and the time a hacker takes to crack them.

Password Time to Crack Method to Strengthen
Password < 1 second No method
P@55w0rd 3 days Replacing letters with symbols and numbers
wbmidog01 7 hours Company representation, a word, and a number
Wbmidog01 39 days Same as above, but added an uppercase letter
1Xa5jK@9# 275 days Random 9 character password
Du4*fB9$0t 58 years Random 10 character password
T4@nk$J04n@bil 2 billion years Using mixed case and replacing letters with numbers and special characters. (Says Thanks John a Billion)
K1e2n3n4e5d6y7 98 billion years Intermixed letters and numbers

As you can see, there are ways to create passwords that are easy to remember but hard for others to guess. If you do this, you won’t have to write them down on paper and stick it to your keyboard. What can you come up with?

Do you have any suggestions or information you would like to share? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Please share them in the box below.

Topics: Cybersecurity

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