Friday, May 13, 2011

How To Pick and Remember Hundreds of Passwords

Don’t you just hate remembering passwords for all the websites you use? I do. And I know it’s very tempting to just use the same password everywhere but that could be a monumental mistake. If your password gets compromised at one website all your accounts could be compromised. At the very minimum you should have 3 passwords. Choose one for high security financial accounts; one for email accounts; and one for everything else. With a little extra work you can generate hundreds of passwords you will never forget. This is how you do it.

Start with a base password. You may want to choose a word or a phrase the represents the most exciting time of your life. For me it would be dongmien, the name of a sexy Vietnamese lady I know. Normally choosing a name is a bad idea, but since this one is unusual it works.

Next change one of more letters to capitals. As a mnemonic device, you may want to choose the letters you capitalize so that they spell a small word or phrase. For example I could convert dongmien to DOngMiEn. Once you have done that you have a base password which you can you can work with.

Next modify the base password to include numbers and/or special characters but don’t be obvious about it. Don’t change “a” to “@”, “o” to “0” and so on. Instead use and algorithm to modify or add to the password and use that algorithm at every website you use.

Consider this algorithm:

1) Choose the first two consonants in the name of the website you are logging into.

2) Look these letters up on the phone keypad and translate them to number. If there is only one consonant in the name of the website choose 0 for the second number.

3) Append the numbers to your base password

If I apply this algorithm to I would choose the letters M and Z. Looking these letters up on my phone keypad I get numbers 6 and 9. Appending the numbers to my base password I get DOngMiEn69. Similarly applying the algorithm to generate passwords for various websites I get the following:

DOngMiEn32 at
DOngMiEn67 at
DOngMiEn68 at
DOngMiEn40 at

Always appending the two numbers at the end of your base password makes the passwords easier to type quickly, however, placing the chosen numbers at different locations increases the number of unique passwords you can generate. You could do this by adding another step to the algorithm to handle placement.

3) Pick the first vowel in the website and convert it to a number like this: A=1, E=2, I=3, O=4, U=5, Y=6.

4) Insert the numbers chosen in (2) after the letter in the position chosen by (3).

Applying the algorithm to generate passwords for various websites I get the following:

D69OngMiEn at
D32OngMiEn at
DOngMi67En at
Dong68MiEn at
DOngMi40En at

As a final added precaution use three base passwords. Use one base password for your financial accounts, one for email accounts, and one for all other websites.


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