If you haven’t heard by now, Gawker was hacked and a huge list ofÂ decryptedÂ passwords, usernames, and emails were released online. This would include a password for an account of mine that I rarely used, but nonetheless just to add to my to-do list, it was included in the information that now is in the public domain! Frustrating, indeed. And before you say, hey, it couldn’t happen to my password because I don’t use gawker, please remember that gawker is the umbrella company for a bunch of websites that include: Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Gawker, Jezebel, io9, Jalopnik, Kotaku, Deadspin, and Fleshbot.
As frustrating as it is, every gray cloud can have a silver lining, and I used the opportunity to do a little research on how to make a better password (I have to admit that I do use the same password for various sites, although my password for every site isn’t the same, I have a set of five or six passwords that I commonly used). The folks at lifehacker, as part of their mea-culpa for getting hacked, posted a link to a phenomenal slate article about how to create incredibly strong but incredibly easy to remember passwords.
And that tends to be the problem with passwords, right? Usually, the harder you make the password to guess (by throwing in numbers, punctuation, random capitalization, or a phrase or word you are unlikely to remember) it almost follows that the harder you make the password to remember. But here’s the slate article with a phenomenal way of creating easy to remember but hard to hack passwords:
Start with an original but memorable phrase. For this exercise, let’s use these two sentences:Â I like to eat bagels at the airport andÂ My first Cadillac was a real lemon so I bought a Toyota. The phrase can have something to do with your life or it can be a random collection of wordsâ€”just make sure it’s something you can remember. That’s the key: Because a mnemonic is easy to remember, you don’t have to write it down anywhere. (If you can’t remember it without writing it down, it’s not a good mnemonic.) This reduces the chance that someone will guess it if he gets into your computer or your e-mail. What’s more, a relatively simple mnemonic can be turned into a fanatically difficult password.
Which brings us to Step 2: Turn your phrase into an acronym. Be sure to use some numbers and symbols and capital letters, too.Â I like to eat bagels at the airport becomesÂ Ilteb@ta, andMy first Cadillac was a real lemon so I bought a Toyota isÂ M1stCwarlsIbaT.
That’s itâ€”you’re done. These mnemonic passwords are hard to forget, but they contain no guessable English words. You can even create pass phrases for specific sites that are coded with a hint about their purpose. A sentence likeÂ It’s 20 degrees in February, so I use Gmail lets you set a new Gmail password every month and still never forget it:Â i90diSsIuG for September,i30diMsIuG for March, etc. (These aren’t realistic temperatures; they’re the month-number multiplied by 10.)
Boom, that’s it and your done! Go forth and propogate secure passwords that are easy to remember.