Christopher Lentz | January 22, 2014 11:32 AM
We've seen it all too many times on the internet and social media, one of our friends gets their account "hacked" and subsequently we receive a barrage of SPAM emails and notifications from them. Though the solution to this problem is quite simple, why are more people not adopting it? The answer is that most of us don't have a clue HOW to create a secure password. It's just not something we were taught in school. Today we are going to put an end to that.
A truly secure password should appear to be random characters and symbols to the outside viewer (i.e.. hackers). However, who can remember a bunch of random characters? Not many people I will tell you that. What is worse is that a lot of websites that require some sort of secure password authentication often have completely different requirements for those passwords. For example, you might be required to have a minimum of 6 characters on one site and 8 on another site. If that weren't enough to complicate matters, some sites don't allow certain special characters. In my professional opinion, this is a flaw of the site because it prevents people from creating a secure password they can remember. Maybe you really like the semicolon, but a site you use frequently will not allow its use. All of this means that making a secure password is more difficult, but we have some ways to help with that.
Since most of us don't have incredible memories that can retain complex and random character sets, here is a way to create a password that is both easy for you to remember as well as complex and secure. I like to start with a phase that I am familiar with or a quote that I really like, "I love banana pancakes". This becomes the start of our new secure and complex password. Now we transfer that phrase into just the first letter of each word with no spaces so we have "ilbp". Since some websites and programs require at least one uppercase and one lowercase letter, make one of the letters uppercase; I personally like to use the last letter because it is not common and thus more secure. That gives us the abbreviation "ilbP".
From that foundation of a pass phrase, we now move on to the next piece of our password puzzle, adding in numeric characters. At this point, I want you to think of a 4 to 6 digit number that means something to you. Perhaps it is part of an old phone number or an old street address number, but make sure is significant to you. Now let's concatenate that number onto our abbreviation from the previous section; now we have "ilbP3550". At this point we have a fairly secure password because it is 8 characters, has one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, and 4 numeric digits. For most sites this will be enough to satisfy their requirements. However, some sites and programs require special characters.
Going back to what I mentioned about your favorite special character, bring that character back to your mind. Most authentication only requires a single special character so we can just add that character to our abbreviation-number combo. Where you add it will likely not matter, but I like to put mine at the beginning because it tends to be more secure according to numerous studies. In fact, I once knew of a company that started their main password with a space, making their password much more secure. So now, after all of that we have our new, ultra-secure password of "!!ilbP3550".
That is all there is to making a secure and complex password that you can easily remember. However, let me leave you with a few additional caveats to this password thing. NEVER use a Social Security number, date of birth, current address/phone number, or your bank PIN number. These can be easily obtained through public records, your trash bin, or even just looking over your shoulder at the grocery.
We want you to be safe and your information to be safe so always be mindful of individuals who are near you when you are pulling out your credit cards, identification, or other sensitive documents. Identity and credit theft are outrageous right now, don't become a victim but instead educate yourself on their tactics.
Happy passwording and we will see you next time.