Passwords and Thee

1.5 billion unique passwords accumulated by a Russian gang?  Time to update your passwords.

passwordmaskDo you already have trouble remembering all those passwords you need…to get into LinkedIN, your bank accounts, your sports fantasy league,  Life’s about logistics – the support systems that keep us alive – don’t use password generators unless you want to keep a written record somewhere or you have an encyclopedic memory.

Sentences makes sense because there is grammar; rules govern everything.  Come up with a rule set out of which you derive your password.

Don’t use your birthday, your street name or some other logically derived word….but start with those. A good password uses capitals, numbers and punctuation.

Generate a rule, like if you live on Main Street, then  a good password would be Niam8v8!.  It’s long enough to pass most password restrictions and uses a pattern you can easily remember…Main spelled backward isn’t a word in any language I know.

Another hidden element of a good password is to make it easy to type: Niam8v8! uses both hands alternately on both the top and bottom rows of the keyboard.  The easier a password is to type, the easier it is to remember.  Your brain actually hands off the the contents of the typing task to your fingers, so the more regular the pattern the more easily encoded.  (You can test that, next time your at the ATM or using a keypad at the store, use your non-dominant hand to type in your PIN….it takes more effort, and you might even have trouble recalling it!

If you do need to write down your passwords, at least don’t write them out entirely. Give yourself hints to the ruleset you used and add some of the elements to remind yourself about the structure.  And don’t forget to include something to hint at the username you used. It won’t (and shouldn’t) always be your email address.

Nothing will ever prevent the theft of methods of access.  The best you can hope for is the same reason you lock your car.  If a professional car thief wants to get into your car, they can. (They buy new versions of alarm systems, drive them out to the desert and practice until they can get in with a few seconds.)  No, the key is to be more difficult than the guy next to you….sort of that old adage about not outrunning the angry momma bear, just needing to outrun the other guy running from the angry momma bear.

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