How to Choose an Effective Password

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Saturday 16th October 2010
In this article
  • How to choose a password.
  • Designing easy passwords to remember that hackers find difficult to crack.
  • How to use a series of passwords for multiple e-mail/logon accounts.
How to Choose an Effective Password

One of the greatest challenges for office-bound SharpMen is choosing passwords that can be easily remembered, tracked, and at the same time serve to guard the password-protected information. The challenge is compounded as most of us have multiple e-mail accounts, computer logon accounts, chat accounts, community server accounts, and so on. It is, therefore, important for SharpMen to choose effective passwords and continually change them. The following SharpWork tips will help you make choosing and remembering your passwords much more simple:

Step One: Establish personal identity. Identify something about yourself that nobody knows about you. For example, you may dislike pizzas or you want to go on a trek to Tibet or your child placed first in his or her class. After defining that little-known fact about yourself, extract the keyword. In the above example, the keywords would be pizza, Tibet, or first.

To be effective, limit this personal identity to four or five letters. This will help as you add other letter and number combinations as described in the following steps.

Step Two: Define a number combination. Next, identify two or three digits. For example, you can choose the number combinations 23, 108, or 749. Let this number be random. Ensure that your number is not derived from your birthday, telephone number, or driver’s license number. This step is a necessary security precaution.

Step Three: Define a multiple e-mail account combination. Suppose you have ten different e-mail/logon accounts. For every one of these, choose a two-letter combination that is a derivative of your name and the e-mail account name. For example, if my name is Pawan Nayar and I want to design a password for both my Yahoo! e-mail account and my usa.net e-mail account. I would use combinations such as PY ("Pawan," my first name, and "Yahoo!," the name of the e-mail account provider) or NU ("Nayar," my last name and "usa.net," my Internet service provider or ISP) for the letter-based portions of my passwords. Notice those first letters come from my first or last names and the second letters come from the e-mail or Internet service provider’s name. What if two service providers have the same first letter? In that case, you simply identify the service provider by the second letters in their names, or use a three-letter combination that includes a letter from your name and the first two letters of the names of service providers.

Step Four: Incorporate a case-customization logic. It is always a good idea to choose a password that is a combination of upper case and lower case letters. To design an easy-to-remember uppercase and lowercase letters combination, choose a simple combination, such as every third letter must be either upper or lower case, and stick to it in all of your passwords. Apply this to the word you chose in Step One and the letters you chose in Step Three.

Step Five: Eat your password. The easiest way to remember your password is to write it on a piece of paper and always carry it with you. On the other hand, this is also the most dangerous and, therefore, useless way. To remember your password(s), remember the combination you used to create the password:

  • Step One — A four or five letter keyword, such as pizza, Tibet, or first.
  • Step Two — A two or three digit number, such as 23, 108, or 749.
  • Step Three — A two-letter multiple account combination, such as the first letter of your first or last name and the first letter of the service provider name.
  • Step Four — A case-customization logic; for example, one which requires that every third letter must be lowercase. Apply this to the word you chose in Step One.

Examples of well-designed passwords utilizing these steps are piZza108Ya, TibET23hO, or fiRst749Us.

Of course, these are simply guidelines to help you get started. The whole idea is for you to design an effective pattern of logic that allows you to choose and easily remember as many combinations as possible.

This article last updated on Saturday 16th October 2010
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