Keeping Safe (And Still Remembering Your Passwords!)

Since the internet came out (because there once was a time where it wasn't a thing! :O oh no!), we have been at war with ourselves. War? What am I taking about? Well, I guess it goes back a lot further than the beginning of the internet. Humans have a tendency to not remember things, and I am no exception. With the advent of the digital world, we learned we needed to remember passwords on top of all of the other things we already had memorized (phone numbers, zip codes, addresses, which in the end are being forgotten because of the internet).

The war I'm talking about is between being safe and remembering things. Not really two items you would consider at odds with each other. On the one hand we have the security we all desire; no worries about identity theft, no bad guys breaking into your online accounts, and definitely no one hacking and posting on Facebook on your behalf. I've never met someone who said, "Oh, I would just love to have all of my accounts compromised and have to worry about my life savings and retirement being spent on drugs." I just assume it's drugs. That's usually what bad people do with a lot of money.

Anyways, the other contender in this war is our own selves, or our mind. We don't always remember things well and even if we remember something it may not be remembered correctly. We hope to have perfect memories that don't contradict themselves and when asked for information we can easily pull it to mind.

So, when we put these two things together, security and memory, we find that for the sake of convenience we usually end up compromising security because we know we can't remember the password "j@%oak!3943jAKKSK123". Besides being way to long and taking too much time to type we would rather not have to make a different password of 20 characters for every account we have even though it would be very secure and we would worry less about someone breaking into our accounts protected with the password "1234567890" or just "password" (I know someone reading this has or has had one of these passwords!).

Wouldn't it be nice if we could have strong, secure, and maybe even long passwords and have different ones for each account but still be able to recall them to mind easily?

Behold! I will introduce you to the algorithm generated password that will almost never forget! I say almost because I can't take into account things like amnesia...

Our goal: strong secure password that you can remember.

I'm going to show you how to create an easily changeable password that you will be able to recall for any account you have and will be able to generate one for any account you create in the future. The nice thing about it is that it takes only a few parts for this password to work and you can update it as needed!

Here is how it works in five steps:

1. Pick a sequence.
For this simple algorithm to work, I want you to pick one of these four sequences: number-symbol-word, word-symbol-number, word-number-symbol, number-word,symbol.

2. Pick a symbol.
Now pick one of the standard symbols, you know, the symbols where you have to hold shift on the keyboard when you press one of the numbers?

3. Pick a category.
This one is a bit trickier. You want a very general category of items you will remember, something like fruits and vegetables or animals. I suggest you do something you are interested in so that you will have an easier time remembering possible words from that category. So, if you have a hobby of collecting model trains, maybe do train brands or types but remember that you want a category that will have a high possibility of giving you a word for each letter of the alphabet (A-Z).

4. Choose a number.
This one should be something that you can change possibly every year if you need to just so you can update your passwords should you be OCD about being safe. Try something like how many years you have been married, all the numbers from the current year added together, the age of your oldest child.

5. Choose a position.
By position, I mean which part of a word, like first or last letter. Say you choose the last letter and you go to make an account on the website you would be choosing the letter s because its the last part of the website name. This part you need to be the most consistent on or you may confuse yourself.

Now that you have all of those things chosen let me give you an example of how you would create passwords and remember them!

1. You chose the sequence number-word-symbol.
2. You chose the symbol &.
3. You chose the category of bodies of water (lakes, rivers, streams - because you are an extreme kayaker or something like that).
4. You chose your spouse's age (35).
5. You chose the second letter.

Now you are ready to make a password for the website
The second letter is "o" from the word "Your." Now you think of the last time you went kayaking on the Orange River in South Africa. Because you chose the sequence number-word-symbol, the symbol &, and your spouse's age, you now have generated a password!

Now you may have to take a little time to remember the items you chose but it really takes less effort than trying to think of a new password and remembering each password for accounts you have and are going to create.

Let's take this scenario further with a few more examples so you really get the point! Oh, and before I do, I want to point out that we capitalized the letter "O" in "Orange" because it's always best practice to have at least one capital letter in your password. Some sites may not let you do any symbols so you may have to remember which sites those are and not enter the symbols there but keep the same pattern. On to more examples!

In keeping the same sequence number-word-symbol and using the category bodies of water, your spouse's age, and the second letter of the site, you will get these passwords

Password: 35Atlantic&

Password: 35Rhine&

Password: 35Amazon&

So, there you have it! A simple way to create and remember passwords! And the unique thing about this system is that it is very easy to make the passwords stronger and to update them without missing a beat when it comes to remembering them. Let's say that the next year you wanted to update all of your passwords but keep the same sequence then you would change the number to 36 because your spouse would be older.

Maybe you want the passwords to be stronger but you still want to remember them. You can pick two symbols and put them both in their or change the sequence to 4 parts: number-symbol-word-symbol. This will allow you to pick multiple symbols but still remember each password when you come to the website.

Also, keep in mind that the category may also help you when it comes to developing secure passwords. Bodies of water may be common enough but I suggest picking something you are into. It just so happens that most people won't know the specific names to every automotive part, bone in your body, cooking ingredient, or dance move. But, you may be wondering if someone who knows you figures out that you are really into anatomy, finds that you are doing your passwords this way, and starts googling bones to figure out your passwords. I would say "Good Luck!" to them if they can figure out which bone you picked and then were able to guess your sequence, symbol, number, and position.

Luckily for you, it's easy to remember.