Having a strong password is one of the most important first steps to safe online activity. Share them with no one, don’t use the same one for everything, and make them hard to guess. Everyone knows but so many people don’t follow these simple rules. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
First let’s talk about the worst passwords; those which anyone could guess given half an hour. Any combination of numbers or letters in order or repeated is the most common and very worst. 1234, abcde, 1111, 66666. If these are yours WHAT ARE YOU DOING READING THIS ARTICLE? Go and change all your passwords right now! I’m waiting… OK, you’re back. The next worst are admin or password or password123. All terrible. In fact, any dictionary word is pretty bad. Or names. Or sports. You are not thinking outside the box with Canucks if you live in Vancouver. Qwerty is terrible. Someone already thought about swearwords and also !@#$% from the top row of your keyboard. Trustno1, you clever person. Well, many other people thought about it too so that’s a no-no. A funny one is fourwordsalluppercase watch this video (mild adult references) to understand why!
But strong passwords are a nightmare because they are hard to remember and so we write them down or get the computer to remember them. Or have one strong one and use it everywhere and never change it. This is also a bad idea. We need to find passwords that are easy to remember, difficult to guess, and are robust. Try these systems for generating passwords:
Choose mantras. Think of something you want to do; go to the gym more, learn to do a plank, stop drinking so much coffee. Turn it into a password. You will constantly remind yourself of your goal, and it’s hard to guess. Add some numbers. The password would end up being 5topdrinkings0muchc0ff33. These still have dictionary words included but are long and random enough to help keep you safe.
Choose ‘words’ that aren’t words, but your brain recognizes as words. They are much easier to remember than random letters but just as hard to guess. For example, BlootCrollyFlud. Your brain understands the conventions and can pronounce it, making it much easier to remember, but it’s not actually a word. Add numbers to make it even stronger. Bl00tcro11yFlud. That’s 15 characters including numbers that are tough to guess.
DitLoIDs. This is my favourite. DitLoIDs come from a puzzle originating from the clue: 1 = DitLoID. The answer is 1 Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. To make your own DitLoID you choose your favorite song, book or film, as long as it is complicated enough! So HPatCoS is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Or LotR;2T is Lord of the Rings; Two Towers. Don’t use ones that are common like GoT for Game of Thrones! Song lyrics or a saying are an option. For example, the first line of Express Yourself by NWA. “Yo man there’s a lot of brothers out there/Flaking and perpetrating but scared to kick reality.” Turns into: Ymtalobot/fapbs2kr an extremely strong password. Imagine trying to guess that one. Or a movie quote. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine” from Casablanca turns into oatgjiatiatw,swim. Try out a few and see what you come up with.
You too can have strong, memorable passwords that you change regularly.
Bonus DitLoiD quiz:
24 hours in a day
20000 Leagues Under the Sea
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
To be, or not to be