Make passwords easy to remember

Pick up some tricks on how to conjure up passwords that are complex enough to deter hackers, and at the same time, easy to remember.
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor

Q: There are simply too many passwords to remember these days, but I don't want to be the security loophole in my company. So how can I create passwords which I won't forget, and yet, are complicated enough to deter hackers?

A: Most organizations require users' passwords to have a minimum of eight characters. They also specify that passwords must meet at least three of the four complexity requirements--uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and nonalphanumeric characters.

So how can you make sure users' passwords are complicated enough to deter hackers, and are easier enough to remember? See if the following trick works for you.

Step 1: Come up with a base word
Pick the name of a pet or any common thing that's easy to remember. For example, say you once lived in Louisville, Kentucky in the United States. You can use that to establish the base of your password and satisfy the required criteria for a strong password.

Remember: You need at least one capital letter and either a number or special character. So, using Louisville as your base word, you can substitute an ! or 1 for i and replace the s with $--e.g., Lou1$ville or L0u!$ville.

Step 2: Add more characters to the base word
Pick any four characters to add to the base word.

Step 3: Store your password without worry
Now, write down the added four characters, along with a clue for the base word. Using our previous example, you would write down city1xyza, where city1 signifies Louisville with a 1 and $ and xyza represents the four additional characters.

So, even written down, this password reference would serve as a reminder of your complete password while revealing nothing to any roaming eyes. (Keep in mind that this example is a 14-character password. While that may be longer than the actual requirement, it may be easier to remember.)

Our expert: Mike Mullins. This tech tip first appeared in ZDNet Asia's sister site, TechRepublic.

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