How to have good easy to remember passwords

Posted Thursday Thursday, August 18, 2011 by Ian Pettman

Passwords: How to make an easy to remember secure password.

Passwords are often a bone of contention. In a perfect world we would not need them, or keys to our house, car, chip and pin etc.

We have written elsewhere that for a few pounds (or possibly less) an unscrupulous person with the right knowledge can hire a computer from Amazon (or any other computer cloud provider) which has enough power to crack a 6 or 7 letter password in few minutes. This is a password of the type GzN73i! In other words random characters.

It is true to say that random characters are probably the most difficult for people to remember. What does this mean? Over the past twenty years computing security has evolved to the point where we have difficult to remember passwords which can be easily cracked.

In case we need reminding, the original idea behind a password was it was easy for you to remember and difficult for someone else to crack. Now this cracking can be done in a few minutes by someone with the right skills, access to the interweb and possibly the wrong motives.

We also probably have dire warnings from IT or HR concerning divulging your password - namely taking the "sensible" approach of having it on a "post it" note on the side of the screen.

So how should we go about having memorable passwords that are difficult for the bad guys to guess?

I have a terrible memory, especially for people's names, so when I met a nice lady called Melony (or Mel as she prefers), the thought of a Melon, or indeed a couple of firm ripe Melons, it helps me remember her name. It seems if we can link something to a picture, it becomes that much easier to remember. Mel is very easy to remember.

There was an article recently which offered a solution for passwords: use four unrelated words and just remember a silly picture of them:

Now I don't know why bananas are silly or suggestive, but this was the least suggestive and silly picture I could find.

Bananaheadlionworld

 

So my password is BananaHeadLionWorld (possibly with an exclamation mark). Well what a coincidence: this is a theme park near you!  But I've only told you once, and if you have looked and memorised the pictures and for some reason all those mentalist people say this is the best way to memorise a random list. A random list is after all what your password should be. So next time you need to create a password, think of four familiar objects and use their names. You have already memorised your new password.

 

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