Monday

How To Create Secure Passwords You'll Never Forget

Password Security is easier than you think.
If you're new to my blog, you may not know that besides creating Secure Passwords You'll Never Forgetfamily portraits and headshots for Orange County executives and artists, I also help business owners with their marketing. I write/edit copy, design websites, logos and corporate identity, as well consult in launching the initial stages of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Yes, I'm a busy man.

Somewhere along the way of helping my clients with their marketing and internet presence, I invariably receive emails that express frustration with their inability to recall passwords to the sites we need to access.

If you are unfamiliar with the procedure for retrieving a forgotten password, it's uneventful, taking all of maybe five minutes. However, it does take time, and over the months and years, it adds up - and up!

Regardless of how effortless it is to reclaim one's forgotten password, with the majority of my clients consistently misplacing them, and the time expended in either waiting for them to restore/create new ones, or helping them through the process, I've come to develop a surefire way to create secure passwords you'll never forget.

You're far from alone if you're registered with a slew of social websites such as LinkedIn, Pinterest, Plaxo, StumbleUpon, Yelp, Flickr, Delicious, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Then there are consumer sites like NetFlix and Amazon, not to mention YouTube, and financial sites like PayPal, and brokerage firms. Let's face it, we're neck deep in password retention.

With so many websites we're subscribed to, each requiring a login, it's no wonder our minds are awash in a morass of fuzzy hieroglyphics. We're either constantly resorting to the password retrieval option or our passwords are so weak they're on their last ticking moments of life support. If not, you're a rare one indeed.

Regardless, I've got good news: creating secure passwords you'll never forget is easier than you may have thought. All it requires is a pattern - a pattern that you design, which makes it easy to recall. The pattern you create must contain FOUR (4) key components. Here they are in no particular order of importance:
  1. website initials
  2. phrase/title/verse initials
  3. non-alphanumeric characters
  4. numbers or date
1. SITE INITIALS
Whatever the site you're accessing, you'll need to include the initials of the site in your password. Since many sites require at least a capital letter, you might choose to make these your capitals of choice.

EXAMPLE
Facebook = FB
PayPay = PP
LinkedIn = LI
Golfmax = GM
NetFlix = NF

2. PHRASE
Think of a phrase or any short collection of words that have relevance to you. It could be a title to a song, book, movie or a line from a favorite poem or Bible verse. It does not matter what it is or where it comes from, just as long as it is meaningful to you, which makes it memorable. You could also opt to make these your capital letters instead of Site Initials.

EXAMPLE
Book
The Time Traveler's Wife = tttw
Movie
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows = hpatdh 
Poem
Shall I compare thee to a summers day = SICTTASD
Song
Back In the Fast Lane = bitfl
Verse
In the beginning was the word = ITBWTW (any guesses of what "fgsltw" translates?)

3. NON-ALPHANUMERIC 
The non-alphanumeric characters are ones such as [, }, /, &, \, |, >, #, etc. Any will do. 

I suggest selecting one or two Non-Alphanumeric characters and then using them at least twice. Some people opt to begin or end their password with Non-Alphanumeric characters, while others prefer to intersperse them. Whatever works best for you is best. 

4. NUMBERS or DATE
When selecting numbers, I suggest picking digits that are in some way relevant to you. While some people simply choose their favorite number, repeating it two or three times, others opt for an important date in their life. Since birthdays are easily discoverable, however, I suggest refraining from including your birth date. An anniversary works well, as does a significant historical date, or even a favorite year. The numbers you select simply need to be something readily remembered.

Putting It All Together
Let's say you have an account with PayPal. To create your password, you might begin by first selecting the initials for the site: PP

Next, you could type the initials for a phrase. Let's choose All Quiet on the Western Front: aqotwf

Our third step may be to select numbers. For our example let's choose a year: 1492

Lastly, we need our non-alphanumeric characters. Let's pick two dashes: - -

Now, let's put it together. Here's how your password for PayPal might look:
PPaqotwf1492--

It could also be pp-AQOTWF-1492, or any sequence of the four components you desire. Whatever the sequence you decide, it's imperative that you use it consistently for ALL your passwords.

Were you to choose a component sequence of
• PHRASE
• NON-ALPHANUMERIC
• SITE
• NUMBER,
following are examples of what your passwords might look like:

NetFlix:
aqotwf--NF1492 
LinkedIn:
aqotwf--LI1492 
FaceBook:
aqotwf--FB1492

I think you get the idea. Every element of your passwords will be identical except the initials of the website you're entering.

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ADDENDUM - February 2017
Changing Password Yearly or Multiple Times 
I just received a question regarding how to manage passwords that are required to change yearly. I've got an easy fix, and one that I use routinely.

All you need to do is add the year. You can add the entire year (i.e. 2017) just a portion of it (17). This allows you to keep every element of your password sequence/pattern intact, with the only change being the addition of the year.    

As to where in your sequence pattern you decided to insert the year is entirely up to you. You can add it up front, in the middle or at the end – simply choose whatever works best for your system.

You might even choose to add the year to the number that already exists within your password. Let's say the number you've selected in your password is 007. Adding the year to your number might change it to 00717. You might also add a hyphen to make to 007-17, or 007-2017.

And for those websites that require you to update your password multiple times, all that is need to is add a letter, beginning with "a." For example, 007-2017a. Should you need to change your password again with the year, your next password would included 007-2017b, and so on.

Following are a few examples of what completed passwords might look like:
Yelp:
##YP1964-17fftmc or  ##yelp1964FFTMC17 
Pinterest:
1943++catbttPT17  or  PT1943catbtt2017 
Google:
17=fwhbtitftGOOG=1126 or goog=2017=fwhbtitft
Password change within the year? 
1. goog=2017a=fwhbtitft  2. goog=2017b=fwhbtitft  3. goog=2017c=fwhbtitft 
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Lastly, I also advise keeping a log of your Passwords and storing them in a safe but easily accessible place. This will serve you well in the unlikely event you forget your password sequence (or any element of it). It'll also come in handy when it comes time for you to change your passwords, which you will want to do from time to time, providing you with a record of previous passwords and their sequential patterns.

As always, should you have any questions or need help in creating secure passwords you'll never forget, no concern is too small.

Mark
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