Choose a Strong Password

In a previous post, we looked at the Whats and Whys of Twitter. I intended to cover how to sign up today, but I realised there was an important stage which you may or may not know, and that is how to create a strong password. So first things first. Today, we’re going to look at creating a strong password. This will be useful for you on every site you sign up for.

A FEW TIPS

  • A good password is one that’s hard to guess, yet easy to remember.
  • Many programmes or sites assign a generated password. Change it immediately you can to one of your own choosing.
  • Avoid using obvious words, like your name, your date of birth, your address.
  • Use a combination of digits, letters and symbols.
  • Make it lengthy. The minimum should be 8 figures, while many experts recommend 14 or longer.

There are many ways to come up with a strong password, but here are two that I have used successfully.

IDEA 1

  • Choose a short phrase you will always remember and no one else will be able to guess. e.g. “My son has hair.”
  • Type that out, changing it in three ways:
    • Remove any spaces, forming it into one word. mysonhashair
    • Change one word to something nonsensical, for example, myshelfhashair.
    • Substitute some letters with numbers that you will recognise. (e.g. l=1, or o=0(zero), e=3 and so on.) mysh3lfh@sh21ir
  • At the beginning or end of this phrase, add the first few letters of the title of the programme you’re working with (written the same way). So for Twitter, this could become: mysh3lfh@sh@1irtw1. Now, when you want to remember your password for Twitter, all you need to do is remember your sentence and you can work it out quickly.

IDEA 2

  • An easier way of doing this is to create a longer sentence that you will not forget, and only use the first (or last) initials of each word.
  • Play around with the letters as above, and add your three or four letters from the site.
  • So “Rob and I retired to the city of Port Elizabeth” would become rairttcope
    • then r21rttc0p3
    • and finally r21rttc0p3tw1t

Whatever system you use, make a record of it so that you don’t forget it. But if you remember the system, you’ll be able to work out your password.

The problem comes when you change your passwords, which you should do every few months or at least once a year. Personally, I save every password as I don’t trust my memory. However, a hardcopy of your passwords is safer than storing them on your computer. You just have to remember to take your records with you if you go on holiday!

Always use the same number of letters from the site name, and always add them to the same position. This way if you DO lose your password (which of course you won’t because you’ve saved it somewhere safe, right?) you can probably work it out. But no one else will be able to, because you will never – ever – share your key phrase. Call me paranoid, but even in my recorded passwords I put “sentence plus 4” or “4 then sentence.”

Either of these methods gives you a different password for every site you go to, but because you always use the same sentence, you’ll be surprised how quickly you learn to type it.

So – for today, create yourself a strong password for your Twitter account, and next post we’ll get you signed up.

Enjoy!