The core of your online security is your password. You can’t control what kind of security that online company uses, but you can control your password.
Most passwords are either far too easy to guess (using automated hacking tools) or written on a piece of paper nearby (making physical access an even easier way to nab your stuff.)
Physical access isn’t usually a problem. You lock your doors, and don’t leave your laptop or tablet laying around in the park while you walk the dog. (If I can touch your computer, I can get in. Period.)
Online, you need a solid password. Here’s my method to generate an unbreakable password which I can easily remember:
- Think of a song you know you’ll remember
- Write down a memorable line from the song
- Abbreviate it to an acronym (1st letters of each word)
- Choose suitable capitals
- Swap numbers for letters
- Swap (or include) special characters
- Hum the song while thinking of the password
- Memorize it and never ever write it down
- Repeat as necessary for multiple sites, for best security
An example of the above:
- Think of a song you know you’ll remember — Let’s use Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight because I love to perform it.
- Write down a memorable line from the song — I say ‘My darling, you look wonderful tonight’.
- Abbreviate it to an acronym (1st letters of each word) — ismdylwt
- Choose suitable capitals — IsMdylwt
- Swap numbers for letters — I5Mdy1w2 (that’s capital eye five capital em dee wye one double-u two)
- Swap (or include) special characters — I5Md^1w2
- Hum the song while thinking of the password — Okay, doing that now
- Memorize it and never ever write it down — I5Md^1w2. Oops; had a little trouble with the fact that I swapped the numeral 1 for the letter ell, then had the word “wonderful” which has the “one” sound. Might want to rethink that.
- Repeat as necessary for multiple sites, for best security — If one provider is hacked, you don’t want your bank account or PayPal password compromised.
Eight characters, a good minimum. Upper and lower case letters. Numbers. At least one special character.
Unless someone hears you humming as you type, an automated cracking tool will take about 13 days to crack that, according to this online tool.
Add a single random special character, and that jumps to decades of dedicated attack to break it.
Change your password at least once a decade, eh? Or how ’bout once or twice a year?