Friday, 03 April 2020 19:29

Easy to Create. Easy to Recall. Super Strong Passwords

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In this simple tutorial I’m going to show you how to easily create a great core password that no one will be able to guess, and which you will be able to easily remember.

This really easy technique will take you just 20 minutes to learn and will be a valuable skill you will never forget (pardon the pun!)

So, let’s get started…

 

Part 1: Easy to Create

1. Get pencil, paper and eraser

MIND HACK: Physical writing
‘Recent studies from psychologists and neuroscientists alike have found that handwriting is king for effective learning.’
Source: https://redbooth.com/blog/handwriting-and-memory

2. Turn Off Your Phone

MIND HACK: Working without distraction
...’the recall of visual details benefits from the removal of either visual or auditory distraction.’
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4114291/

3. Imagine something that makes you smile

Take a few minutes and think of something you love to do or something you want to achieve.

It’s important that you create a positive statement. After all, this is something you are going to repeat to yourself many times. Why would you want to make it negative?

MIND HACK: Positive visualisation
‘The findings of a series of studies have implied that emotion plays a role at various specific stages of remembering information, consolidating memories and during the recall of experiences at a later date.‘

Source: https://www.psychologistworld.com/emotion/emotion-memory-psychology

4. Write a short sentence

Write your positive statement or affirmation as a short sentence all in lower case letters;

For example;

i love to walk macy on the beach at sunrise

5. Mix up the lower and uppercase letters

Go through your statement, saying it outloud.

Grab an eraser and replace the first letter of your keywords with a capital letter.

Don't follow the standard convention for capital letters. Instead apply them only to keywords that have meaning to you.

For example, I always use a capital letter for ‘Love’. And, if I’m making a personal affirmation statement, I always use capitals for ‘I Am’…

But it’s up to you. Develop your own style and your own rules.

In our example;

i love to walk macy on the beach at sunrise

becomes

i Love to walk Macy on the Beach at Sunrise

6. Pick out the first letters

Now take the first letter of each word and write it below your statement

i Love to walk Macy on the Beach at Sunrise

becomes...

i L t w M o t B a S

7. Add numbers

Strengthen it by replacing letters with similar sounding numbers.

For example;

‘to’ becomes ‘2’

‘for’ becomes ‘4’

i L t w M o t B a S

becomes...

i L 2 w M o t B a S

8. Add characters

Strengthen further by replacing letters with characters of similar sound or meaning.

For example;

‘at’ becomes ‘@’

‘and’ becomes ‘&’

i L 2 w M o t B a S

becomes

i L 2 w M o t B @ S

9. Add Emoticons

I always add an emoticon on the end of my passwords.

You don't need to do this if you already have characters like & and @, but I always do anyway.

For one thing, it adds further security by adding more characters and secondly, well, we could all use more smiley faces in our day.

So our example now looks like this;

i L 2 w M o t B @ S

becomes

I L 2 w M o t B @ S : - )

Other emoticons;

This article, 'How I make smiley faces and other emoticons with my keyboard', has a good list of really easy emoticons you can use.

Just make sure you pick one that you will use for everything. Otherwise you increase the risk of forgetting.

Statement to password samples

Here are a few more samples of personal statements being turned into passwords.

 

I love to drink wine in the garden at night

becomes

iL2dWitG@N:-)

***

it’s 2026 and i am debt free

becomes

i2026&IADF:-)

***

i Love to walk with Jack in the Woods

becomes

iL2wwJitW;)

***

it is Time for my Business to Fly 2020

becomes

iiT4mB2F2020;-)

 

Part 2 – Instant Recall

Memory Exercises

‘Repetition is the mother of learning’

Now you have a core password that no one will ever guess. So, now you must remember it.

Exercise #1

Sit, close your eyes, and visualise your statement for a couple of minutes.

Then, write it down on a piece of paper 10 times.

Write the statement in full.

Write it in its finished format.

Visualise it.

Doodle it.

Absorb it.

Exercise #2

Develop a feel for it in use;

Using your laptop, tablet or phone, type your final password 10 times.

Type it on every device you might use it with.

All the while repeating the statement to yourself.

Exercise #3

Over the next few hours, stop what you are doing for a moment, remember your statement and write out your new password.

Exercise #4

Sleep memory

Place a piece of paper with your handwritten statement and the final password, next to your bed.

Look at it for a few moments before you sleep.

Decide that you will remember it by morning.

First thing the following morning, state your statement again and write down your password.

Physical Keep Safe

Although the instructions here seem long, the whole technique will take you less than 20 minutes.

The key is to remember your statement and to repeat it often as you go about your day.

But just in case it does slip your mind, use this perfect low-tech backup.

Write it down on a piece of paper and hide it somewhere in your personal space!

That was easy!

BUT, don’t write the password.

Instead write either the initial sentence, without capitals or characters.

Or, write a question to trigger your memory.

Security Trigger Questions

Trigger questions are a great way of beginning to memorise your password.

Here’s how to use them;

a. After looking at the trigger question, close your eyes and remember creating the password.

b. Visualise the style you established,

For example,

  • You can see yourself making the decision, so that ‘Love’, ‘Macy’, ‘Beach’ and ‘Sunrise’, were keywords and used capital letters.
  • Actually visualise yourself erasing the original lowercase letters and replacing them with capital letters.
  • Remember deciding on your own style and replacing letters with numbers and characters, so ‘to’ is ‘2’, and ‘at’ is ’@’.
  • And you know that your personal style is to use a smiley face with a nose ‘:-)’ at the end.

Trigger question examples;

In the first example below you’ll see that I have almost given away the whole password statement in the question. But, it doesn’t matter because I have created my own styles and conventions.

Even knowing the words that make up the statements, without knowing what capitals, letters, characters and emoticons I have used, no one is going to be able to guess the final password.

#1 – iL2wMotB@S:-)

Trigger question = What do i love to do on the beach with macy at sunrise?

#2 – i2026&IADF:-)

Trigger question = What will I be in 2026?

Part 3 – Make it stronger

What you have created above is your core password.

It’s made of a statement that has meaning to you, and you have repeated it over and over. And thoroughly committed it to memory.

Your new password is already very strong. But, if you use it for every account you will weaken it; If someone gets hold of it, they'll be able to access every account you have.

The fix for this is very simple.

Use your core password for everything and just add the initials of each account somewhere in the sequence.

Again, develop your own style. Decide now if you will use upper or lowercase letters.

If you choose a lower or uppercase style and always use it, you will not have to try to remember each time.

For example use;

  • EM’ or ‘em’ for email.
  • FB’ or ‘fb’ for Facebook.
  • DR’ or ‘dr’ for domain registration.

Place them in the same place every time

This is important, you can put these identifying initials anywhere you like in the password, but always put them in the same place.

To start with it will be easier if you put that at;

  • the beginning
  • the end, or
  • before the emoticon

For example this would be my password for my email account;

iL2wMotB@Sem:-)

This is the same core password for Facebook;

iL2wMotB@Sfb:-)

This is the same core password for my domain name registration;

iL2wMotB@Sdr:-)

 

The ultimate way to strengthen your password memory muscle

If you really want to always remember your passwords, then you need to get used to using them.

Here are a couple of tips to help you achieve that;

  • Never use the ‘Remember me’ option when logging in to an online account.
  • Always invest a couple of seconds to type your password in every time you access your accounts.

Here are two good reasons why...

  1. You will get practice at remembering passwords
  2. Your accounts will be more secure because they will be logged out, should someone else get hold of your device

So, there you have it.

A quick and easy way to create unguessable, unforgettable core passwords. And a simple way to extend them to use with every account.

Give it a try and see how you do and leave a comment below.

 

Josette Dehaney

Josette Dehaney is a freelance technology writer with nearly 30 years experience working with non-technical individuals and organisations of all sizes, who want to get the most out of Web technology. As the founder of WorkingTheWeb.co.uk, Jo writes tutorials, long-form blogs, features, white papers and visual content designed for absolute beginners.

https://josettedehaney.co.uk

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