How To Pick A Strong Password You Can Remember

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What is a strong password?

A strong password is a password that is virtually impossible for a hacker to figure out or crack using brute force methods. A good, strong, unbreakable password should consist of many, if not all of the following:

Strong Password

  • Both upper and lower case characters
  • At least 2 Numbers
  • At least 2 Symbol Characters such as ` ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ - + = { } [ ] \ | : ; " ' < > , . ? /
  • Should be a minimum of 8 characters in length, longer is even better and more secure. 12 Character long passwords are considered truly secure.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well the problem is that by using such a strong password they are often rather random and hard to remember which is why many users do not employ such uncrackable passwords.

Quite often you will encounter this phrase, or something similar, when registering on a website: Passwords should consist of 8 or more characters, 1 upper, 1 lower, 1 number. This to ensure you have created a strong password to ensure the security of your account from hackers.

Shortly I will give you multiple methods for creating good strong passwords that are easy to remember and virtually impossible for others to either guess or crack. So you will get the best of both worlds and stay secure online.

What is a Bad Password

What you should not use as your password:

  • Your Account Username
  • Your Pets Name
  • Your First or Last Name
  • Your Company Name
  • Your E-Mail User Name - MadeUpUserName867@gmail.com
  • Your Birth date
  • Your Address
  • Any Dictionary Word
  • Absolutely no Password that is less than 8 characters in length. 6 characters are just way too easy to crack.
  • Anything that is personal that a person who knows you could easily guess.

Specific Passwords that are just moronic to use:

  • Password
  • God
  • Jesus
  • Christ
  • Love
  • Sex
  • Money
  • 123456 - Consecutive Numbers
  • Qwerty - Consecutive Keyboard Characters
  • Asdfg - Consecutive Keyboard Characters
  • ~!@#$%^ - Consecutive Symbols
  • Any Dictionary Word as these will be the first thing a cracker will attempt to use to solve your password

Studying a list of commonly used password coming from accounts that have been hacked where the passwords were publicly released is a good way to learn from others mistakes. Most Commonly Used Passwords

I notice that many of my readers have came here looking for something like:

  • strong password list
  • strong passwords list
  • good password list

If I was to have such a list here there is a good chance since I already rank #1 on Google for these keywords that hackers would also find my list and this list would be automatically tested when they try to hack accounts online. So I will not produce any such lists. Instead I teach you below how to create your own unique passwords that are very strong and also memorable for you.

Username Password login screen
Username Password login screen

Royalty Free Image Credit: Linux Login

Next I will give you the method I personally use to create my own good pattern passwords. By combing a dictionary word with both numbers and symbols this makes it strong enough to not matter that you have a dictionary word within it. And its still easy to remember. So this is the best of both worlds in my opinion. Having a dictionary word used consecutively is bad, breaking it up with letters or symbols is alright.

Method 1 To create an easy to remember password that is really strong.

I take any somewhat short dictionary word that relates to a personal interest of mine and mix in numbers and special characters in a set pattern. Since most users on HubPages consider themselves to be writers the word "Word" should be easy enough to remember and identify with.

Then I will mix it up like this. A capitalized letter, a number, a lowercase letter, a number, rest of word with one more Capitalized letter again, then end it with two special characters.

Example: W5o4Rd@$

Now you have turned a short easy to remember 4 character word into a strong 8 character password! By using two numbers that are easy for you to remember and two special characters you can assign some kind of meaning to you make the whole thing easy to remember. Writing "Word", 54 means something special only to me...., @= At (HP) makes me money $. Does that make some sense to you?

As far as the numbers go to make them easy to remember think of 2 numbers that have some kind of special meaning to you. Not your birth year or address. I like to use a number that relates to a special achievement a very famous person is well known for that I will never forget. Other times I just pick to random numbers and hope I can remember them.

Use this same method on a 6 character word while adding in 2 numbers and 2 special characters and you will have a 10 character password that is quite strong!

A good alternative would be to break up the word with symbols and use numbers at the end. Or alternate between numbers and symbols. Pick a method and stick to it so you know your pattern.

Method 2 to create a strong password that is easy to remember.

Substituting certain letters in a word with either numbers, symbols, or other letters.

  • a = @
  • E = 3
  • h = 4
  • I = !
  • L = 7
  • M = W
  • O = 0
  • S = $
  • T = +
  • U or V = ^
  • W = M
  • % = A Literal Space



Using the word "Great" would then become: Gr3@+ . Then add in the 2 numbers in a pattern you choose and 2 more symbols and you have a very secure password you can easily remember that's still not real long. Gr3@+21$@


Method 3 to create a strong password that is easy to remember.

Create an acronym from an easy to remember phrase. Preferably one that contains a number. Otherwise just insert your 2 numbers in like before in a set pattern. You could also substitute the number 2 for the word to, or too.

For example take this quote from Abraham Lincoln: God must love the common man, he made so many of them.

GmLtCm,HmSmOt add in your 2 easy to remember numbers and 2 Symbols and you have: Gm5Lt7Cm,Hm#Sm$Ot . Now you have a 17 character password that is both easy to remember and strong enough for even your online bank account.

Notice I inserted the numbers and symbols using a set pattern. 2 letters, a number, 2 letters, a number. 2 letters, then the comma that was already there, 2 letters, a symbol, 2 letters, a symbol, last 2 letters.

Any pattern will work, just pick one and always stick to it. So it becomes second nature to you when your trying to remember your password and method used to construct it

Now all you must remember is this common quote, your 2 numbers and your 2 symbols. These last 2 will becomes easier to remember as you reuse them in other passwords. You must also remember your pattern and that too will becomes easier to remember with repeated use.

One more shorter example: Garbage In, Garbage Out

Gi,Go Add our 2 numbers and symbols next G3i5,G%0&

You can also mix and match the above 3 methods to create your own custom method.

This Little Piggy Went To Market

TLPWTM becomes +7Pw2M since I now have two numbers in here I'll just add symbols. +7Pw*2$M Here I have combined a phrase based acronym with substitution.

Once you have come up with a password you believe is strong go test out your password with this Password Meter. It is safe to check your password there since it uses JavaScript to evaluate your password from within your browser without transmitting it over the internet. I took the time to look at the HTML and Javascript code that runs that web page and can assure it is safe to use. I trust it.

If you still really don't trust this web page then test out a similar password that is not actually the one you plan to use. For this to be accurate you will need for your similar password to be the same length, use the same number of numbers and symbols, use the same pattern of upper and lower case characters. Basically it all needs to match the same exact pattern to get an accurate result on your similar password.

Recently several major websites have been hacked! What is worse is that all of them were storing the passwords in plain text form. What this means is that the passwords were not encrypted or hashed. So if a hacker were to get in, which they did, it made it very easy for them to see what the users passwords are. When you consider that many, if not most, online users reuse their passwords across multiple website this is a recipe for disaster.

So to make things easy for you I recently discovered a great way to combat this issue while still keeping your password easy to remember. You can reuse your password across multiple websites and still keep it unique by adding a couple of letters to your password that makes it unique to just that site. You do this by taking a couple of letter from the website's address and adding that to your password.

For example let's say my password that I reuse is, (I really don't use this): Coffee with 53 and #$ added in to create C5o3ffee#$. That's a great 10 character password as it is. To make it unique to HubPages.com I could take the first and last letters and add them into my password like this C5o3ffee#$HS. On Yahoo.com it would become: C5o3ffee#$YO and so forth. Now its an even better 12 character password that's easily strong enough for even your bank account, more than good enough for a site like this or Yahoo.com.

The key thing to remember, like my other suggested methods, is to pick a pattern and stick with it so it's much easier for you to remember it. It could be the first and second letters, first and third or whatever you like. But it has to be the same pattern on each website otherwise your going to either forget it or spend too much time trying to figure out the pattern you used.

Even though I had created this hub long ago and knew better I was also guilty of reusing my weak and strong passwords on multiple websites. When Yahoo.com got hacked and I was notified that my E-Mail address and passwords were exposed by hackers online I quickly went to the websites I truly care about and changed the passwords just to be safe. Luckily for me the password exposed is a very simple password, what is commonly called a throw away password, for sites that I don't care if others gain access to.

What is scary and shocking is that Yahoo.com, and several other sites that got hacked, were storing the passwords in plain text, unencrypted and not hashed! So once hackers had the passwords Yahoo made it kids play to check and see if the users were reusing their passwords for other accounts. Naturally many people do this and hackers know it.

While I'm far from an expert on security issues even I know you hash and encrypt passwords before storing them in a database. It's the bare minimum you do to insure your users private information remains that way. To do any less is pure negligence in my opinion. It is also very disrespectful to their users who have placed their trust that the sites will do what is right. This shows us that many major websites either don't know better or care enough to do what is right. So you best look out for number one, because they surely are not.

I invite you to share, via the comments below, the method you use to come up with your strong passwords. Doing this without revealing any passwords you actually do use of course. I will add any good suggested methods.

By Anthony Goodley ©Anthony Goodley 2010 All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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Password Comments 16 comments

Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

This is really good, MyWebs...And if you are lucky you buy a laptop with fingerprint reading...but if that breaks then I guess I better change some passwords although I am thankful I don't use any of the ridiculous ones you mentioned! LOL


MyWebs profile image

MyWebs 6 years ago from Sheridan, WY Author

Thanks Ann Nonymous. I always worry about any software solution. If you do use one, like a password managing program, be sure to backup the database just in case. If you have to reinstall windows you could also lose all of your passwords.


Mystique1957 profile image

Mystique1957 6 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

This is an excellent hub, Tony...

You do know quite a lot and this has been an extraordinary help for me! Your hubs Rock!

It´s nice to follow you!

Thumbs up!

warmest regards and infinite blessings,

Al


MyWebs profile image

MyWebs 6 years ago from Sheridan, WY Author

Thanks Mystique1957 for your kind comments. I'm always happy to gain new followers and share a bit of knowledge with them.

I will come check out some of your hubs shortly. Stay safe and secure online.


Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

Another good hub MyWebs. Another not so good password is to use your address.


MyWebs profile image

MyWebs 6 years ago from Sheridan, WY Author

Thanks for the suggestion Duchess, I added address to the bad password list.


LizzyJeanAllen 6 years ago

Some of my passwords are not strong enough. I need to make some changes.

Thanks

LizzyJean


arrow007 profile image

arrow007 6 years ago from USA

Nice article. It makes easy to build my own password by applying the algorithms you mentioned.


MyWebs profile image

MyWebs 6 years ago from Sheridan, WY Author

Thanks LizzyJEanAllen and arrow007. I thought this might be what you was looking for in your Question arrow007.


ADRIANA 5 years ago

THANKS FOR THE HELP.I COULDN'T THINK OF 1 STRONG PASSWORD


ap100 profile image

ap100 4 years ago from India

Those are really cool tips for making our password strong but still easily to remember. Liked it.


That Grrl profile image

That Grrl 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

I'm dealing with seniors online who don't want to pick a password that looks complicated. They often get their accounts hacked into just because they didn't want to forget their password.


onlinecashdigest profile image

onlinecashdigest 4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Absolutely interesting stuff your providing MyWebs...I want to link my hub about protecting PayPal account to this hub of yours.


MyWebs profile image

MyWebs 4 years ago from Sheridan, WY Author

Thanks onlinecashdigest. Feel free to link away.


TatyAnnaArraz 3 years ago

Thanks for your article, although, after reading it I am still having problems making or creating a strong password for my Yahoo Acc. And to make matters worse I can't click on "e-mail me a reset link" because my computer updated itself and logged me out of MSN. What do you suggest I do to get into my e-mails?


CounterPoint 3 years ago

I would argue that your suggestions still don't create the easiest to remember, strongest passwords. This page http://eric.gerlach.ca/blog/2011/6/18/why-steve-gi... explains why in fairly easy to understand language.

It comes down to this. Once you have created a password that forces the attacker into brute force mode, the most important things are using something from every character set (letters, upper case letters, numbers, and symbols), and making it as long as possible. Well, using what's on that link gives you very long passwords that are very easy to remember. Even easier than what's described here.

For the average joe who is not technical, replacing letters with symbols, even consistently, and maybe only vowels, is still difficult. By using padding, this problem goes away, becomes easier to remember, and much stronger.

Read the link and be happy.

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