Password Pandemic

How frustrated have you become by the ever-increasing number of passwords that must be first created and then remembered these days?  It seems like every time you want to do something on the web, you are required to create an account which includes the cumbersome task of creating and remembering yet another password.

So how do you manage all those passwords today?  Do you:

  1. Write them down?X – Sincerely a bad idea…pieces of paper get lost or read by someone else, flash drives get lost, hard drives crash…
  2. Use the same one over and over and over again?X – Another bad idea, if someone cracks your Netflix password, you can bet they’ll try other accounts and the next thing you know, they can also log into your bank account!!!
  3. Save them in that little notepad thingy on your iPhone?Xish – I’m not aware of a good way to hack that but if you ever lose your phone, and who hasn’t done that at least once, then your world becomes someone else’s playground!!!
  4. Practice Elite Speak? – Xish – Points for being geeky, yes, and you can create a very strong password.  But it can be easy to overlook an Elite Speak character when you’re creating a password and then days/weeks later when you’re trying to get back into that website and DO remember the Elite Speak character but DON’T remember you DIDN’T use it when you created the password, you can’t get in…and you’ll likely never figure it out!

In this pervasive plague we call “the Internet”, passwords are an unfortunate symptom with which we must live.  Well digital citizens, I am here today to offer you a treatment for that symptom…I say a treatment rather than a cure because the symptom will never go away, at least not in the foreseeable future, so this is a treatment to help you deal with the symptom, a very important symptom none-the-less and one we must manage closely to protect our digital wellbeing.

Well, here’s my treatment.  I’m going to share with you a password methodology that I read about some years ago and have been employing myself for a couple years now.  I think it has made my digital life far more manageable…and best of all, I never have to write down a password…ever.  Now it will sound a bit complex at first but once you do it a couple times, you will get the hang of it and never have to write down a password ever again.

First, here are a few general rules most websites and operating systems have regarding passwords…strong passwords.

Rule 1.  Must be eight characters in length minimum

Rule 2.  Must contain at least one number

Rule 3.  Must contain at least one capital letter

Rule 4.  Must contain at least one special character – &%$#@!* (and no, I’m not cursing at you!)

So with those in mind, let’s look at my methodology.

Step one:  Come up with a short phrase that you can remember… making it something unique to or about you will help it be more memorable…and make it something with a number in it to help satisfy rule 2 above.

Example:  My front yard has 3 trees

Step two:  Extract the first letter from each word in your phrase…and capitalize one of the letters to help satisfy rule 3 above.

From our example:  mfYh3t

Step three:  Add a special character to the front or back…just one character and always the same character…be careful with this one; there are a few websites out there who do not allow special characters.  So the way I deal with these when I am attempting to log in later is to always try WITH the special character first, if it doesn’t work then I know it is WITHOUT and I’ve only failed one password attempt.

From our example:  mfYh3t@

Step four:  Make the password unique to the website for which you are creating the password.  Do this by incorporating a few characters from the associated URL…take the first three or four characters or the last three or four before the .whatever.  Now a word of advice here…BE CONSISTENT…this is the only area of the methodology that can vary greatly so always use the same part of the URL…ALWAYS!!!  Plus this is another area you can throw in a capital letter to make it stronger and/or comply with rule 3.  But again, BE CONSISTENT!!!  I can’t stress the consistency enough; the methodology will break down here if you are not consistent and your frustrating symptoms will continue.  Ok, I think you get the consistency thing.  So let’s say you’re trying to set up a password for your blog “crotchetyoldguy.wordpress.com” and you agree with yourself to always use the last three characters of the URL.

From our example:  mfYh3t@ess

And BOOM, There it is!!!  You’re unique and uber strong password that you will never have to write down.

mfYh3t@ess

Now let’s say you create a new Gmail account and need yet another password…no problem now that you are equipped with a password pandemic symptom treatment.  What’s the URL for Gmail??  www.gmail.com So your password would be…

mfYh3t@ail

Simple, simple, simple…secure, secure, secure…solace, solace, solace…

Now go forth and multiply the number of your website memberships as you see fit and be happy knowing you have a strong and secure password for whatever situation you may encounter.

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About Darryl Loy
I am into all things technology…especially education technology. I am currently Director of Technology for a private school in Dallas Texas…previously 13 years as Associate Head of School for Operations at a private school in Fort Worth Texas.

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