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How to Create a Secure Password That You’ll Always Remember

How to Create a Secure Password That You’ll Always Remember

It seems like we hear of a new hack every day that puts our sensitive information at risk. Do you have a secure password up to the task of preventing hacks into your sensitive data?

What is your password style?

Does one of these sound like you:

  • I’ve used the same password for 20 years with only a few modifications.
  • I only change my password when forced to. e.g. if a website forces a password change due to a security risk.
  • I always include personal information in my password, such as my name, date of birth or children’s names.
  • I use really secure passwords but keep them written on a piece of paper in my wallet/purse/desk.
  • I have the same password on at least 5 accounts.

Many of are guilty of having one or more of the above styles. Before we get into creating an easy-to-remember, yet secure password let’s review what we do NOT want to do in our passwords.

What NOT to Do to When Creating a Secure Password

  1. Do not use words you can find in the dictionary.
  2. Do not use personal information.
  3. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts.
  4. Do not create short, easy-to-hack passwords. 8 characters should be your absolute minimum. (the longer the better)
  5. Do not write the password down in an unsecure location. (e.g. a post-it note that you put in your wallet)
  6. Do not keep the password the same for a long time.

What You SHOULD Do to Create a Secure Password

  • Do use upper and lowercase letters e.g. HhAa.
  • Do use numbers in your password.
  • Do use special characters in your password e.g. [email protected]#.
  • Do use numbers and special characters within the password (not just at the ends. e.g. Password1! vs [email protected]).

Keys to Creating a Secure Password That You Will Remember

We often find it easier to recall passwords that are tied to memories.  Consider using some of the following inspiration when creating a secure password:

  • your favorites
  • memorable vacations
  • entertainment likes: books, movies, tv shows, magazines
  • any strong memory
  • wedding details
  • firsts

Now let’s turn this inspiration into a secure password.

Example 1

Let’s start with our favorite color:

Start with the phrase. –> I Love Purple

First off we substitute a heart emoticon for the word ‘Love’.

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I + <3 + Purple

Secondly, since “purple” can be found in the dictionary change at least one letter into a number or special character.

I + <3 + Purp!e

Final Password:  I<3Purp!e

You will always remember what your favorite color is so this becomes an easy to recall secure password.

Example 2

Let’s try this again with a TV Show we like, The Big Bang Theory. Let’s add a character from the show into this password and create a phrase using the first character of each word.

My favorite Big Bang Theory character is Sheldon.

M + F + B + B +T + C + I + S

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Next, let’s change the casing to match what it would be in a real sentence.

M + f + B + B +T + c + i + S

Last, we should add a special character and a number.

M+ f + B + ! +T + c + 1 + S

Final password: MfB!Tc1S

Looking at the above password, it doesn’t seem that memorable; however when you say the passphrase, it will be easy to recall. You used an exclamation mark for ‘Bang’ and the number one is to make it more secure.

If you regularly use the same types of swaps for numbers and special characters they will be easier to recall. e.g. for an l or i use a 1 or !.

Example 3

Let’s do one last example. You’ll notice wedding details was included in the inspiration list. But you’ll recall that you don’t want to use personal information, so we want to use a particularly strong memory associated with your wedding. An easy choice would be to use your wedding party.

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Say these were the people in my wedding party: Tom, Charlie, Kent, David, Gloria, Julie, Anna and Mary

First let’s put the first letter from all of those names together.

T + C + K + D + G + J + A + M

Second let’s add in a special character, in this case let’s separate the men’s names from the women’s.

T + C + K + D + # + G + J + A + M

Now we need a number. An easy to remember number would be the month, date or year of your wedding. All 3 split out would make it the most complicated (note: this is personal info but we are using it in a way that makes it hard to hack).

mm + T + C + K + D + # + dd + G + J + A + M + yy

Let’s put in the real numbers now and see the password: 01TCKD#01GJAM00

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This is a pretty secure password already but let’s change up the letter casing by alternating upper and lowercase letters.

Final Password: 01TcKd#01GjAm00

Now it’s your turn. Practice making some secure passwords from favorites or memories out of the inspiration list.

Note: it’s never a bad idea to use a password storage application, even when you create secure passwords that you’ll always remember. We all have so many online accounts that remembering which password goes with which account can be a challenge. 

 

Featured photo credit: 8 Levers of Triplicane / C/N N/G via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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