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3 ideas for how to create strong passwords

Jackie Robinson's jersey. Photo by rocknjosie, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

We all know how important it is to choose a password that’s easy for us to remember, but difficult for others to guess. Ideally it should have a combination of letters and numbers, uppercase and lowercase.

Here are a few ideas for creating secure passwords.

1. Choose a phrase or sentence that you’ll remember, and then tweak it.

Say you choose “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” (from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina). Then you take the first letter from each word, and maybe turn the i’s into 1s and the o’s into 0s. So you end up with:

Hfaaa-euf1u110w

Nobody will ever guess that one!

Where to pull your phrase from:

  • The opening sentence from your favorite book (or any sentence from your favorite book)
  • Your favorite movie title (if it’s a long one)
  • Something you say a lot
  • Or something someone else says a lot

2. Choose your two best friends’ or relatives’ names, and then tweak it.

Say you choose Sarah and Jessica as your two names. Spell them backwards and put a few random capitals and numbers in. So you end up with:

acisseJ45hara6S

Other ideas:

  • Go with last names instead of first names, especially if they’re unusual
  • You could also use town names (just make sure they’re not too short or obvious)

Don’t do these:

  • Choose your partner’s/spouse’s name (too easy for someone to guess)
  • Choose your dog’s name (same)
  • Choose your child’s name (same)
  • Use your own name (duh)

3. Choose sports team players and records, and then tweak it.

This is a good way to put some numbers in easily, if you’re a stats person. Say your favorite baseball player is Jackie Robinson, and you know that in his first season in the Majors he had a .297 batting average and scored 125 runs (thanks, Wikipedia). Rearrange a few things, reverse some digits, add a capital letter, and you end up with:

rob792inSo521n

Just make sure to remember where you put the numbers and capitals into the name…

Other ideas:

  • Dates are good to use because they’re easy to remember; pick an event that means a lot to you, and consider reversing the digits (and don’t use your birthdate or wedding date–too easy to guess!)

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