Secure Password Generation
Here are two ways to create a seemingly random password that will be easier to remember because it has meaning to you.
Bruce Schneier's Method
Security expert Bruce Schneier put this password method out in 2008 that many people still recommend today. Simply take a sentence and turn it into a password. This method takes a personal message from you and makes it indecipherable.
- Take the words from the sentence (I love corgis and hate chihuahuas).
- Abbreviate the words into single letters, some capital and some lowercase (ILc&Hhuahua).
- Mix in some numbers and symbols for variation (ILc&H8huahua).
The PAO Method
Cognitive techniques might help you remember all of your secure passwords, especially when they contain visual, shared cues with outlandish, unusual scenarios. At least, that's the theory put forth by Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists who created the Person-Action-Object (PAO) method.
- Select an image of an interesting place (Australia).
- Select a photo of a familiar or famous person (Dr. Phil).
- Imagine some random action along with a random object (Dr. Phil diving for glowworms in Australia). For example: the three letters from "diving" and "glowworms" can create "divGlo."
- Create and memorize four of these PAO stories.
- Combine your made-up words together and you'll have an 18-character password.
How to organize your secure passwords
Now that you have your unique passwords, how do you manage them so you can still log in to your important accounts with speed and efficiency?
Sign Up for a Password Management Tool
A good password management tool will store your passwords for you (and even provide random new passwords when needed). All you need to do is remember a single master password that grants you access to the stored data. Enter your master password once, and the password management tool does the rest. Right now, some good password management tools are LastPass or 1Password.
Use Your Memory
Another strategy is to max out your memory by storing as many possible passwords in your head. Use original ones for important sites like email, Facebook, Twitter, and banks. Use a common (but hard to crack) password for all the less important spots.
The Hybrid Method
Memorize passwords for your most frequently used accounts and commit the rest to your password manager.
- To check how secure your password is, run it though an online checker like OnlineDomainTools, which will show how much time it would take a savvy hacker to crack it.
- Change your passwords one at a time. Give yourself time to get used to typing one and then move on to another account when you're confident you won't forget the current new password.
Never use the same password twice!