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

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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. !@#.
  • Do use numbers and special characters within the password (not just at the ends. e.g. Password1! vs pAs5W@rd).

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 November 25, 2021

How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

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How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

There comes a time when we may be searching online and don’t want the browser to remember our footsteps. The reasons don’t always have to be what we obviously think of as the main reason; for example, sometimes, you may not want Safari to remember your passwords or prompt you to enter your password when surfing the web.

Whatever the reason, we may think that we are totally in the clear with Private Browsing on Safari and the other browsers on a Mac. However, a quick Terminal command can bring up every website you’ve visited. How do you do this? Also, how do you clear your tracks for good? We will provide both answers and more today.

    What Does Private Browsing Do?

    When activated, Private Browsing on Safari prevents your browsing history from being kept in the history tab of the application. Along with this, it doesn’t autofill information that you have saved in the browser. In this mode, you essentially become incognito and any references of previous use is essentially hidden when you are in private mode.

    For example: if you are on Facebook or filling out a form and some information or your login is already filled in in the spaces provided, this is called autofill. It’s activated by simply clicking Safari next to the Apple symbol in the menubar and selecting Private Browsing, then clicking “OK” to the prompt.

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    The reasons behind private mode differ for each individual. While we won’t go into all of those reasons, one thing that is  important to remember is that private browsing doesn’t forget the websites you visit. As we will see later on, Macs keep a second copy of the websites you visit in either mode. If you are in frantic mode looking for a solution to this, look no further.

    The Terminal Archive

    While Safari does a good job of keeping your search history out of prying eyes in the history tab, there is a less-than-obvious way to view a full list of visited websites on Mac. This is done in Terminal; the command-line emulator that allows you to make changes to your Mac.

    Terminal is located in the Utilities folder on your Mac. Once activated, simply add the command:

    dscacheutil -cachedump -entries Host

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    Once you hit “enter”, a list of the visited sites appear. Showing only the domains, the sites appear in a format of:

    Key: h_name :(website domain)ipv4 :1

    However, there’s no need to fear—there is a way you can clear this information from Terminal with a command that’s just as simple.

    Clearing Your Tracks

    Just as simply as you were able to enter the command to view the websites, you can clear the cache that Terminal showed you with the comamnd:

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    dscacheutil -flushcache

    As the command denotes, this literally “flushes” the domains from Terminal. This does not prevent the record from continuing to be recorded for future sites, however, so if that’s an issue for you, repeat this process regularly.

    Other Browsers and Private Browsing

    Other browsers have this form of privacy mode for their service. They promise many of the same things as Safari, but they do not have the same Terminal issue due to how this command only presents websites visited on Safari (the browser Macs come shipped with).

    If you use Firefox, you’ll notice that its private mode is also known as Private Browsing. Chrome calls private mode Incognito, while Internet Explorer refers to it as InPrivate Browsing. Opera is the newest to the scene, denoting it as Private Tab. Safari is the oldest well-known browser with this feature.

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    As you can see, despite Private Browsing not being 100% private, Terminal allows for your browser to be. In what ways has Terminal helped your life or allowed you to become more productive? Let us know in the comments below.

    Featured photo credit: Benjamin Dada via unsplash.com

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