Never Forget a Password Again
We’ve been inadvertently trained over the last few decades on how to create passwords that are hard to remember, but surprisingly easy for computers to guess. And ironically, it’s the security systems themselves who’ve created this blight on password strength. Sit back, relax, then briefly panic as you realize your passwords may not be a secure as you thought. Shortly thereafter, breath a sigh of relief as you realize there’s a fascinatingly simple way for you to design a password that’s both easy to remember and very secure. Hopefully, from then on, you will never forget a password again.
XKCD: How to Never Forget a Password
Randall Munroe, the comedic and physical science genius behind the comic XKCD, has countless strips that are poignant, practical, and poetic and can stay with you for very very long time. Not many, however, have the daily impact that the comic below has had on our host hotlou.
You’ve probably spent countless hours crafting the perfect password that many security experts have taught you sufficiently meet security requirements. Specifically, password requirements will often require a lowercase letter, an uppercase letter, a number, a special character, and a minimum length.
So, in turn, security experts have taught us to combat this problem by simply replacing some letters with numbers or special characters. That way, we can easily remember the password, right? Yup, right up until we
- have to have 127 of them
- some of them expire
- multiple systems won’t allow password re-use
- some systems reject passwords that are similar to old passwords
- the number of password reset attempts has been maxed out
- you have run out of children whose names appear in your password and you or your partner aren’t willing to birth more children just for a password requirement
You get the idea.
But after all that, you have what feels like 10^65 permutations of the same password, P@ssW0rd, p@$$wOrd, P4ssW0RD, P455wOrd, and P4$$w3rd. Plus, it’s impossible to remember which permutation goes with what system or website. So much for your attempt to never forget a password.
Never Forget a Password Again
Maybe it’s naive to think so, but this system is effective, repeatable, and secure. Enough so that you may be able to remember all of your important passwords. Take 3 words, stack them up, divide them by a special character, then calibrate.
For the hotlou show cohost Hot Mike 3, you can imagine creating a password like hot-mike-three.
And if the system requires, say, a number and a capital letter, you can callibrate to Hot-Mike-Three-911.
If these words are related to the product you’re choosing the password for, you can see how you might use this technique to ensure you never forget the password to it. And it’s especially useful for those websites and systems in which you are required to enter your password frequently, for whatever reason.
And regardless of whether you use this system, the hotlou show HIGHLY recommends using a password manager.
Three of the most popular password managers available:
- Dashlane – Probably the simplest
- LastPass – Arguably more secure, free version available, and nominal subscription fee for more features
- 1Password – Maybe more for enterprise and arguably the most secure
All have options to work across multiple devices. All make it very easy to work in your browser on desktop. The host of the show can only vouch for 1Password being increasingly easier to use on an iPhone within apps and the mobile browser (but still pretty clunky).
But whatever you choose, you’ll save your passwords in your manager and secure them with a master password — highly recommend using the technique described throughout this episode and in these show notes. Then, your passwords will be with you wherever you go if you enable multiple devices.
Here’s just a bonus comic for you.
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