How To Pick A Good Password: Password Managers, Generators and Algorithms
Picking a password can be the most annoying thing ever. And even though we all know how important safety is online, getting through all sorts of different requirements, re-typing and “your password is not strong enough” notifications are a pain.
In the end (and this is often the case with me) you pick a password so complicated and irrelevant, that you forget it in a few days and have to re-start the process. Annoying? For sure. And yet – necessary.
However, there may be a few things that you could do to make your life easier. From password managers to password strategy, here are a few tips on how to make your password stronger and easy to remember.
Picking a strategy can be a comprehensive solution to all your password issues in the future. It simply means coming up with a personal formula for password generation that you can then use across various websites. Your passwords will be different, but the principle behind them – the same – allowing you to create strong combinations that are also easy to remember. Here are a few examples:
Bruce Schneier, an online security expert, suggests using whole sentences to ensure secure passwords. Just think of a sentence that makes sense to you, like “When I was five, I always had a hot dog after karate practice”.
And then make it into a password, which could look something like: wiw5ihahdakp.
Another idea is to use an excerpt from your favourite book, basing your password on the page and line number combinations. In this case you could even keep the book in plain sight on your desk at home or office and refer to it, should you ever forget the chosen password.
Yet another strategy is the co-called “password sandwich”: you choose your base word (the meat), and two additional ones (the bread), all connected with symbols (the condiments). The base word can an encrypted line you can remember, like a line from a song – f.e. “I’ve got the moves like Jagger” becomes ivgtmlj. The first piece of bread can the code name for the website you are making the password for, like fcb (for Facebook) and the second one – when that password will expire – m12 (expires in the month of December). Put the sandwich together with the condiments and will look something like, fcb!ivgtmlj.m12
If you think that a personalized algorithm will be too much work, you can leave this security measure to the password manager. With cloud-based (Last Pass) and local (Keepass) options, you will find no shortage of choices. A password manager will store your passwords in encrypted form and when you are trying to log in, the passwords will be automatically decrypted locally. The best thing about a password manager is that it gives you total freedom from all password-related matters and let you focus your energy on other things.
Compared to the password manager, a password generator will take on coining unique passwords for each website you use. All you need to do is come up with a master password and the generator will do all the work. It’ will be compatible with most web browsers, as it’s implemented as bookmarklet (browser extension). So if you think it’s the right option for you – just install it on your browser.
Sometimes simplicity works best and when it comes to passwords that do not hold the key to your most cherished secrets, you might as well go retro and write them down in a notebook. For me, this would include my password to the local online pizza delivery place and my Daily Puppy account. So the worst thing that could happen if someone got a hold of my password book, is that they would learn that I hate onion toppings and love mini schnauzers. And I think I can live with that.