Passwords passwords passwords!! How to remember them all

Doesn’t it feel as if life today is completely controlled by passwords? And every time you try to login to a site you’ve not used for a while you can almost guarantee that you’ve forgotten the password and it will need to be reset.

But what is the alternative? If you use a very simple password or use the same password across multiple sites, you become very vulnerable to being hacked. But it seems a bit counter-productive to write them all down – particularly in a notebook with Internet Passwords on the front!

It really is a dilemma for many people. The latest thinking from tech giants Apple, Google and Microsoft is that passwords will soon no longer be used for mobile, desktop or browsers. The three companies are going to support a new standard created by the FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium that will use a multi-device passkey to simplify sign-in and remove the need for a password.

But in the meantime, how can you manage your ever-growing list of passwords? They are usually still needed, even if there is also another means of authentication such as a thumbprint or facial recognition. And how can you make sure they are secure to minimise the risk of hacking or identity theft?

In this article we look at:

  • Five must-haves for secure passwords.

  • Five fun ways to create secure but memorable passwords.

  • Five things you need to know about password managers.

Five must-haves for secure passwords

There are many things that you can do to make your passwords more secure. And many websites have their own criteria to follow when you are setting up a password. But there are five things that are generally agreed as being good sense when it comes to creating a password:

  • Go long

Ideally your password should be at least 8 characters, but the longer the better. 

  • Mix and match

A password should include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.

  • Make it unique

Use a different password for each of your accounts so that if one should get hacked, the others are safe.

  • Don’t get personal

A password should not contain any personal information for example birthdays, partners/kids names, hometown etc. Not only could this information be easy to find out, it could also help to identify you.

  • Avoid the obvious

Recent research found that among the CEOs of companies that had suffered data breaches, the most common passwords were either “password” or “123456”, “12345” and “123456789”. Don’t use obvious passwords as they will be the first ones people try if they want to get into your account.

Five fun ways to create secure but memorable passwords

Yes, passwords can be the bane of our lives, but there are various ways that you can try to make password setting fun. Below are five examples, but you can probably think of many more that may just help to brighten up your day.

  • Three random words

We’ve all heard of the app what3words and you can use a variant of this to choose a password. Simply think of three random words that are either meaningful to you or you can remember, and string them together to make a password. 

  • Thank you for the music

Think of a line from a song that you really like and use part of it as your password. 

  • Read between the lines

On a similar theme, find your favourite book, turn to a random page, then use a phrase from it. You could even add the page number at the end, and keep a note of that as an aide memoire if needed.

  • Be mindful

If there are certain sites you only use in one location, you could use something local to that location as your password. Practise mindfulness and use a description of something nearby as your password. 

  • Go alternate

If you want to use two or three words in your password, an interesting option is to alternate the letters of them. So, for example if you wanted to use the words blood red sky, you could come up with brslekodyod.

In all the above examples you can substitute numbers or symbols for letters as you wish to make the password even more robust.

Five things you need to know about password managers

You may well have heard about password managers but don’t really know much about them. So here are five things you need to know:

  • What is a password manager?

A password manager is a piece of software that stores all your passwords in one single account. The only password you then need to remember is the password to the password manager itself. 

  • What kinds of things does a password manager do?

There are many password managers on the market, and they all vary. But most will do some or all of the following:

  • Give you easy access to multiple accounts. 

  • Generate random passwords for your accounts.

  • Change your passwords when needed.

  • Autofill your passwords.

  • Share passwords securely for joint accounts.

  • Where can you get a password manager?

Most web browsers have integrated password managers which can store your passwords and autofill them when you enter a master password. 

However, there are also bespoke password managers which have the advantages of being more secure and also operating across multiple devices; including supporting passwords for apps. Some of the most popular current password managers are:

  • Nordpass

  • Keeper

  • Roboform

  • Dashlane

  • 1Password

  • Lastpass

  • What are the top three advantages of a password manager?

  • Passwords and other sensitive information can be stored safely in one place and can be used over a range of different devices.

  • Password managers can generate strong random passwords, which are unique and difficult to hack. 

  • It is much easier to change passwords regularly without any hassle.

  • And the top three disadvantages of a password manager?

  • If your master password is discovered or hacked, and you have no second factor authentication, all your accounts could be at risk. 

  • If you forget your master password you will be unable to access any of your accounts until you reset the password. 

  • Not all password managers are free so, depending which you choose, you may end up paying a monthly subscription fee.

We hope that this article has given you some useful information and ideas about:

  • Five must-haves for secure passwords.

  • Five fun ways to create secure but memorable passwords.

  • Five things you need to know about password managers.

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