Creating and using strong passwords are important to keep your computer and accounts safe from viruses and hackers. There are tons of creative ways to generate strong passwords, but not all of them are easy to remember and use.
Here is a method that I have been using to create strong passwords, which is easy to implement and remember. All you need is 3 minutes to generate a nearly unhackable password, by implementing the following 6 steps:
1. Think of a phrase with 3 words or more. Use non dictionary words, date, event, self-invented words or anything that only you know. If you really can’t think of one, create an acronym from a unique sentence with at least 5 words.
I will use carl gusta cheo as an example throughout this post, which is a phrase with my name and a Spanish word. Phrases made up of names, slangs, or foreign words are fine, but words that nobody knows makes your password even harder to crack or guess.
2. Then, capitalize the first letter of each word:
Carl Gusta Cheo
3. Replace the following alphabets in your phrase with numbers/special characters:
- a becomes @
- e becomes 3
- o becomes 0
- i becomes 1
- s becomes $
C@rl Gust@ Ch30
4. Starting from the 2nd last character of the 2nd word (which is Gust@ in this case), place each character of the 3rd word (which is Ch30 in this case) alternatively backwards. It may sounds complicated to you, but it is very easy to implement once you understand the trick:
5. Count the length of your phrase (which is 13 in this case) and repeat the first character (which is C in this case) n times, where n = length of your phrase. So I have to repeat C 13 times in this example:
6. Lastly, insert an emoticon that you like. If you current password doesn’t have any numbers/special characters, use an emoticon that has numbers/special characters such as 8D and :#. For me, I always love to use XD while texting:
If you find this method complicated, you can always remove 1 or 2 steps, perhaps removing the 5th and 6th steps. Also, after creating your password, practice typing it a few times, so that you can easily type your password when there is people watching you.
If you find my method difficult to understand, watch how I implement all 6 steps in this video in just 43 seconds:
How Strong Is My Password?
Now, let’s check my password strength with 2 popular online password strength checkers:
GRC’s Brute Force Password “Search Space” Calculator
This is a search space calculator developed by Gibson Research Corporation, which calculates the time required to exhaustively search every password up through your password’s length, by using brute-force search.
In massive cracking array scenario, the estimated time required to exhaustively search my password’s space is 76.43 million trillion trillion centuries. Not bad huh?
Password Strength Checker
Password Strength Checker assesses the strength of your password and shows you which area you can improve in a table. The overall score and password complexity are computed based on cumulative result.
As you can see, I got a perfect 100/100 score in this password strength test.
Is It Really Unbreakable?
Practically yes, provided your password has the following characteristics:
- completely unique and random
- has 16+ characters
- consists of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters
You can even further strengthen your password by creating your own password generating rules and methods. There are plenty of great articles online that uses different ways to create strong and memorable passwords. Some popular and recommended techniques are:
- turn words into shorthand (eg: you are weighing heavy on my heart -> U R w8ing heavy on my <3)
- create an acronym from a sentence (eg: you are weighing heavy on my heart -> yawhomh)
- make your own alphabet replacement rules (eg: v becomes ^, x becomes ><, etc.)
- reverse a phrase
Here’s my suggestion:
- Create your own password generating algorithm by combining several techniques and arrange them in steps.
- Write down the steps or bookmark this post so that you can refer to it in the future.
- Now you just have to remember your unique phrase (never write it down!).
What If I Have Multiple Accounts?
Most Internet users usually have more than 5 registered accounts on various websites and services. I recommend you to create completely different and unique passwords for important accounts such as Internet banking, email, and Facebook. Besides, remember to change your passwords at least once every 6 months.
For less important accounts, you may consider to create less unique passwords from a base password. Let’s say my base password is C@rlG0u3shtC@. I use it to generate different passwords based on service name:
- Twitter: tw33tC@rlG0u3shtC@
- Pinterest: p!nt3r3stC@rlG0u3shtC@
Also, if you have way too many accounts and have hard time remembering your login details, consider getting a password manager like KeePass, LastPass, and RoboForm.
Tell us if you have any great methods to create a strong and memorable password. Make sure you share (Facebook and Google+) and retweet this article to your friends and family so that everyone can benefit from these security tips.