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How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Remember

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Learn how to create a strong password to secure your digital data

Learn how to create a strong password to secure your digital data

Online security is a paramount concern in this digital age. One of the most common deterrents for an online security breach is setting up a password. Surely, you have experienced creating one. Chances are you’ve created several. Let’s see, perhaps one for your email, another for your social media accounts, and other online platforms that require securing your personal information. Creating a strong password decreases the chances of online theft or breach of security. However, remembering a string of nonsensical characters is harder than you may think. This is where these helpful online tips can save you the headache of remembering your strong password.

Not all passwords are created equal, some are better than others.

Not all passwords are created equal, some are better than others.

What is a strong password?

Let’s start with the obvious question, what is a strong password? The most basic sense, a strong password is one that seems random, uses different characters, and is not easily guessed. Of course, the type of passwords varies from one another. Your ATM PIN may only require four to seven characters and all of which are numbers. Your email password may have a minimum number of characters that require the inclusion of particular elements – numbers, upper case, and lower case letters, special characters. You see, each system allows you to create a password given a specific set of characters. The key is to create one that can be easily guessed.

Some bad examples

  • The classic 1234 for your PIN. If I may, let’s include passwords using the same numbers e.g. 4444, 0000, 1111. Yes, they are very easy to remember but they are easy to crack. Just recall the last time you tried to guess someone’s PIN. Chances are you thought about these types of easy-to-guess combinations.
  • Special dates as your password. Yes, it is hard to forget your birthday so just key in that password. Well, that’s another easy-to-guess password. Special dates like birthdays and anniversaries are easy to guess.
  • Using “password” as a password is another common mistake that people make. It’s hilarious but when your digital files are accessed illegally, then you won’t be laughing. This example also includes pet names, surnames, mother’s maiden names, the city where you were born and any other personal information is never a good choice for your password.

Of course, there are other horrendous choices for passwords. But let’s leave it at these because I think you get the point. So the question now is how to create strong passwords that you can remember? It is easier than you may think. And yes, this involves a certain level of creativity.

Strong Passwords in a nutshell?

As you increase the number of characters that you use, the more difficult it is to guess. I don’t want to sound too technical but we are talking about lowering the probability of your password getting cracked. Aim for creating a strong password that is at least 8 characters long. By just choosing from the 26 English letters, a password with 8 characters in length has 208,827,064,576 possible combinations. Yes, it is one of the instances where longer is better. I have a very long one.

bobhasaverylongpasswordandisnotshytouseit is better than bob

Apart from creating long passwords, making it random makes it harder to crack. This means utilizing all available character types for your passwords. Look at your keyboard right now. You can use upper case letters and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.

&1l0v353%UU17~hmi^UUif3* is better than bob

Of course, these are just examples. You can combine them in many different ways to make strong passwords to protect your online data. But that is not what we are here. We want you to create strong passwords that you can remember. Getting locked out from your digital information is almost as worse as losing it. So, it’s not enough that it is strong and strong. You need to combine them into something that you can easily recall.

There are many ways to create a strong password.

There are many ways to create a strong password.

Strong Password Tip 1: Substitution Technique

This is my go-to password creation style. It is simple and it can seem random to strangers. Only I can make sense of it. This makes it strong and easy to remember. Let’s create a strong password.

Let’s start with a name or phrase that you can easily remember. Again, make it long. For our example let’s use the phrase “corona virus sucks”.

Now, let’s substitute numbers and special characters for the letters. Let’s substitute number 0 for the letter o. Use @ instead of a. For spaces, I used _. For the letter u, I used ). Instead of letter s I use 5. This way, the initial phrase “corona virus sucks” is now C0r0n@_V1r)5_5)ck5. Take note that I used the upper case letter for the start of each word (except for sucks which uses a number as the initial character).

If you notice, the substitutions I made are easy to remember: a=@, s=5, o=0, u=), space=_

Now let’s take a look at our strong password: C0r0n@_V1r)5_5)ck5. It is long. It uses uppercase and lowercase letters and it uses special characters. The password looks random but it is something that you can remember easily.

Remember that it starts with a phrase or a name that you can recall. In my case, I sometimes use the type of file or website that I use. For example, I want to create a password for my Paypal account.

For this password, I used these substitutions: a=@, L=7, c=(, o=0, u=). This turns Paypal account into P@yp@7_@((0)nt.

Important reminder: to make this work, make sure you use the same substitutions. For example, use @ for all a, use 7 for all L, etc. I just substitute characters that look like letters. Let me repeat this, use the same substitutions for all your passwords.

Create strong passwords that you can remember by using patterns you recognize.

Create strong passwords that you can remember by using patterns you recognize.

Strong Password Tip 2: Use Patterns On Your Keyboard

I am a visual person so patterns work for me. So how does this work? Simple, look at our keyboard and choose a pattern like the first 3 number on your keyboard and first 3 letters on your keyboard: that’s 123QWE. It seems too simple so let’s make it a little more complex. Now press the first 3 numbers then repeat it while pressing the SHIFT key. This is what you will get. 123!@#. Now add the first 3 letters then followed by the first 3 letters while pressing the SHIFT key again. This is what you will get; 123!@#qweQWE. Now that looks more random.

The important strategy here is remembering the patter and using the SHIFT key. Let’s try another pattern to create your strong password.

()_P{}0-=p[] if you look at this sample password it looks like something from your advanced math textbook. But if you look closer it is just holding the Shift key while pressing the last 3 keys before the backspace and then pressing the last 3 keys underneath the first 3 keys you pressed. Then you repeat the sequence without pressing the SHIFT key.

Important reminder: For this technique, all you need to remember is the pattern. You can key in your password without having to look at the keyboard. Although the most common keyboard is the QWERTY configuration, there are other keyboard types. So check if it is a QWERTY keyboard or not before using this. Also, you may difficulty using this method when switching from your computer keyboard to your mobile device.

Use familiar equations and turn them into strong passwords.

Use familiar equations and turn them into strong passwords.

Strong Password Tip 3: Mathematical Formula

This strategy is one that I have used numerous times before. This is quite simple. Just think about a mathematical equation. You don’t have to think about differential or integral equations. Make it as simple as possible. Let’s make a strong password that uses mathematical equations.

Let’s start with 10/5 = 2. Now, you can rewrite this as 10/Five=Two. Here is another example: 2+10=12. You can rewrite it as 2Plusten=Twelve.

It’s not as impressive as the others but it still works. how simple or complex you want it is up to you. Just keep in mind that you need to remember this mathematical formula and how you rewrite it.

I often retain the numerical value of the first number add the operation then spell the second number. I retain the equal sign and spell the last number. You can follow this or make your own pattern.

Important reminder: The critical details here is paring the password with what you are protecting - email, login to a website, etc. you must remember which one you use. Second, you must never forget how you rewrite the equation.

There are numerous ways where hackers and unscrupulous individuals can get to your private information. Having a strong password is an essential step in securing your digital files. You can use password generators that provide really powerful password and passphrases most if not all are difficult to remember. And yes, there are automated ways to create, store and use passwords, but they too have their security limitations. Computers right now often ask you if you want them to remember the password and store it in your computer. That is a road you may take. But personally, I never store passwords in my computer. There was one time I stored information in my computer I encrypted it. Then used another encryption software to encrypt the encrypted files. It sounds crazy but I am very cautious since I have money stolen from me. I had my account hacked. And I had personal data stolen. Now, I have a host of security measures in place. But one important detail in my security system is creating strong passwords that I can remember.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 JP Carlos

Comments

JP Carlos (author) from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on August 01, 2020:

After all the hacks in FB and other sites, i changed my passwords immediately. This is a simple way to protect ourselves.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on August 01, 2020:

Definitely will change my password for now.

JP Carlos (author) from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on August 01, 2020:

Hello there peachy,

I've been using these techniques for several years now and it has helped me create strong passwords with easy recall. You can try them.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on July 31, 2020:

great tips on changing passwords. I never thought of sharing alphabets with numbers instead. Thanks

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