Do I seriously have to stress the importance of setting secure passwords? I hope not. With a new cyber attack happening every day, it is a constant reminder to secure your passwords and keep them least guessable. But are you doing the right thing? Bravo, if you're.
It is always a tedious task to set different strong passwords for every online account and service and that to remember it. After all, a human mind has its limitations too.
So, the age-long dilemma still stands.
How to set strong passwords but remember them easily? In this post, I'll share the most common mistakes people often make with their passwords and how you can set easy, secure and memorable passwords.
Let's start with the mistakes
Most Common Mistakes with Passwords
People are lazy, and most of them make these most common mistakes with their passwords that may compromise their online security. Let's glance at these errors and see if you're one of those people.
1. Never Changing your Password
Like your Dentist advises you to change your brush every three months, you should frequently be changing your password every three months. More so, the 8-length passwords that were considered secure a few years back are now easy to crack putting all your data at risk.
If you have not changed your password since ages, I would highly recommend you do that immediately after reading this post and secure your online accounts with a strong password.
2. Reusing the same Password
I must admit I am guilty of this mistake. The more you use the same password at different places, the more vulnerable you get to cyber attacks online. It is a lazy mistake many people make at a subconscious level or when they are just lazy to type the same password for a new account or service online.
However, cyber analysts advise against this practice and urge everyone to use different passwords or variations of a base password for your accounts.
3. Using Simple Password
Many users try a combination of non-random patterns that include a combination of English or foreign language dictionary words, numbers and standard symbols to match the necessary criteria of a secure password.
Nonetheless, advanced algorithms can break your password in a matter of seconds using brute-force method and putting you at a grave risk.
4. Using Common Substitutions
Using common substitutions like 0 for o or ! for i in simple phrases are easily detected and doesn't make your password as secure as you may think.
Intelligent hackers can see through these substitutions and crack your password easily.
Now that you know the most common mistakes made by people around the world let me get to the next step to discuss how you can set strong and memorable passwords.
How to Set Strong but Memorable Passwords: The Basics
Before I share the advanced methods, let me review the most common practice for a secure password.
- The longer, the better. Your password should have at least 12 characters.
- Mix and match your password. Include uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters in your password to increase the complexity for the hackers.
- Don't use dictionary words. If you use an existing word like blackcat as your password, you may as well be giving the key to all your data to the hacker yourself. Even making smart substitutions like b|@ckc@+ is not enough. Hackers will be easily identifying all possible replacements if it is a dictionary word.
In short, try creating random passwords with a combination of characters and try to keep it long enough for hackers' frustration.
Convert Sentences into Passwords like Bruce Schneier
Bruce Schneier, a cyber expert, introduced his password creation method back in the year 2008 and still recommends it today. Why I like it is mostly due to its simplicity and the way it helps in creating a super-strong password that is surprisingly very easy to remember.
Here's a quick breakdown: Take any simple sentence. Anyone that is not common but personal or memorable for you. You can pick your favorite line from a song or a book and twist it to create your password.
The twist can be
- Abbreviating the words in the sentences and then substituting them to create your password.
Example, The sentence "backseat of your rover" from my favorite song "Closer," I use it as below:
b@at0f?rr3r Here I have simply taken the first and last alphabets of each word in the phrase and used substitutions to make it stronger and more complex.
- You can also add any of your favorite dates (Not Anniversary or Birthday) that you may remember like October 11 and use it to bracket your password like shown below
You can get as creative as you wish to with your passwords as long as you remember it. The simple trick I shared above has generated this random password which may look complex but is very simple for me to write and remember.
Play around with Words: Vowels, Consonants or Characters
This method is relatively simple. Pick any random phrase or a combination of words you like, for example; cat ate the dog who ate the apple. This phrase is uncommon which may not be known to anyone but useful for you. Now, let's look at the ways of playing around with it.
cttthdgwhthppl While this may look like a problematic password to others, for you it will hold meaning. What I have done here is just removing the vowels and combining the rest of the alphabets to form a quick, strong password.
Second Password :
Ct+hDgwHtpPl Here, I have just capitalized the first alphabet and every other alphabet after a gap of two. Also, I have mixed in more complexity by using symbol substitutions for my alphabets.
I hope you get the drill. Using this simple technique, you can rest assured create as many random passwords as you wish to and remember them just the same.
Use Keyboard Patterns for your Password
Do you own a smartphone? Then you may be familiar with patterns used to unlock most smartphones before the advent of fingerprints, and facial recognition became usual, of course.
Treat your keyboard like a pattern and form keywords using any models. Let me show you how.
Does this look complex to you? While this password ticks all the categories of a strong password, it is straightforward to create. Let me get you in on the secret.
I took numbers 2,5,7,9 and then after each number typed in the alphabets below it on the keyboard with the first one in lowercase and the second one in uppercase. With that, we have a strong password ready to use and more importantly, quick to remember.
Install a Password Manager
With so many services requiring account creation or a quick signup, I know the difficulty in remembering more than 50 passwords. A quick solution is to install a quality and renowned password manager that will keep all your passwords in one place. Password Managers like Dashlane help keep your passwords organized and secure in one place.
All you have to remember is one master password, and you're good to go.
Check How Secure your Password is?
Many online services let you check how secure your password is or in simple terms, how much ease or difficulty a hacker would face to compromise your security and breach your data.
How to Strong but Memorable Passwords: Quick Recap
Creating strong and memorable passwords is essential. Period. Here's a quick recap for you.
- Avoid common mistakes like not changing your passwords or reusing the same passwords everywhere.
- Mix and match words, phrases, and numbers to form a strong password.
- Complicated is not equivalent to strong. Create a password which is complex for hackers and easy for your mind.
- Make use of Bruce Schneier method or keyboard patterns to make up your list of passwords
- Check how strong your password is and keep all of them organized in a Password Manager.
So, that's all you need to create strong but memorable passwords. I hope you will use these hacks and set strong passwords to ensure your online safety and security for years to come.
Have a secure and safe online experience.