Password Tip #1: Choosing a Good Password

Choosing a good password that is easy to remember can be challenging. How can you make it easier?

The first step I recommend is using phrases. The human brain can remember fairly complex and long phrases much easier than random gibberish. It is important to pick a phrase you can remember and that is hard for someone else to guess. Choose a favorite passage from a book or a song (as long as others don’t know it’s a favorite) – or make up a phrase.

Here’s an example:

I’m really glad we didn’t have a lockout in the NFL this year. That would be boring.

Pretty easy to remember and hard to guess – I just made it up.
Now, let’s turn it into a password by selecting the first character from each word:

[I]’m [r]eally [g]lad [w]e [d]idn’t [h]ave [a] [l]ockout [i]n [t]he [N]FL [t]his [y]ear. [T]hat [w]ould [b]e [b]oring.irgwdhalitntytwbb

Wow! That’s a 17 character password. Let’s spice it up a bit.

There are two sentences, so between the sentences let’s add a number.

irgwdhalitnty47twbb

Add in a symbol or two.

irgwdh@litnty47twbb$

We now have a 20 character password.

Mix the case a bit.

irgWDH@LITnty47TWBb$

This is a very strong password now. It is also fairly easy to remember. This would be a great password to use for an application storing sensitive information. You could use this for an online banking site, a service like SmartVault, or your email login.

Here is advice from US-Cert on choosing and protecting a password: http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/ST04-002.html.