In today’s digital landscape, passwords serve as the guardians of our virtual lives. They are the keys that secure our sensitive information and confidential data. However, the increasing sophistication of cybercriminals means that creating strong, impregnable passwords is no longer an option – it’s a necessity.

  • I never forget my passwords.
  • My passwords are unique to each of my logins.
  • My passwords are virtually impossible to hack.

This column aims to empower you with the knowledge and confidence to construct passwords that are not only easy to remember but also virtually invulnerable to hacking attempts. 

Passwords are the keys to your information.

The importance of robust passwords cannot be overstated. In an era where our personal and financial lives are intertwined with the digital realm, the significance of safeguarding our online accounts and information cannot be ignored. Often, the allure of convenience leads individuals to employ a single password across various platforms, unwittingly handing cybercriminals a master key to their entire online presence. To combat this vulnerability, the practice of using unique passwords for every login is paramount.

If you lose your key, you are locked out. If someone acquires your key, they have access to your information. Sometimes it is convenient to have a single key to all your locks, but if someone obtains a copy of your key, they have access to all your information. That’s why it is important to have unique keys to each of your locks. If one is “lost,” the other doors are safe.

Current studies indicate 60 percent of internet users reuse passwords across multiple sites regularly and 13 percent of internet users use the same password for all accounts and devices. This makes things easy for thieves and once they have your password, they essentially are you, at least digitally. So, you need a password that is unique to each website, impossible to guess, and easy to remember. It’s not as tough as it sounds.

Build a unique password using three elements

1. A unique, reusable passphrase

To begin, think of a “passphrase,” something unique to you that is easy to remember, such as “Because you’re mine, I walk the line.” We will use this passphrase as part of our scheme for all passwords and it will be the only thing you need to memorize.

A passphrase contains the elements of a normal password (letters, numbers, special characters), but when “decrypted/deciphered” is much larger than the password key itself. In “Because you’re mine, I walk the line,” you could grab the first letter of each word from that line (as underlined) and make something like: B4m!wtl.

Content provided by LBMC Cybersecurity professional, Mark Warren.

You could practically say it while you type it, and it wouldn’t make sense to the person beside you. This becomes your root element and should be committed to memory, so make the phrase something meaningful to you. You will find that it is not difficult to remember after a few uses.

2. An element unique to each login

The second element of our pass phrase contains an element from the site you are logging in to. Once a method is chosen, you should remain consistent about it from site to site. You might pull the letters from the URL, or from the title, or from a phrase in your head that symbolizes the site to you.In this example, we will pull the last three letters from the host name in the URL. When logging in to Gmail, our element would be “ail.” To make it less conspicuous, you may want to shuffle those letters. However you do it, be consistent from site to site. For our example, we will reverse the letters, making our second element “lia” Our password for Gmail now becomes: B4m!wtllia

3.Something unique to you

Your final element should be something unique to you. You might choose to add a string that is meaningful to you, such as a date or set of symbols. You may choose to add a revision number for passwords that must be periodically changed. For this example we will add an age, “29 years old,” making our final password “B4m!wtllia29y0.” The estimated crack time for this password by a desktop PC is approximately 157 billion years!

So for YouTube, our password would become “B4m!wtlebu29y0” and for Yahoo our password would become “B4m!wtlooh29y0.”

You may string the elements together in whatever combination makes the most sense to you. You may choose to use the root element last, or in the middle. The example above is by no means exhaustive.

  • Create different schemes for passwords that you share with your family or friends.
  • Create different schemes for work, recreation, or critical passwords.

The key is to find something unique to you. Find a pattern that fits you and you will never forget it.

The landscape of digital security requires us to be proactive and vigilant. The three-step approach outlined here provides a solid foundation for creating passwords that not only defy easy deciphering but also cater to our innate ability to remember patterns and phrases. As we traverse the intricate web of cyberspace, let us remember that our passwords are the first line of defense against an array of digital threats. By fashioning passwords that combine personal meaning, website specificity, and a touch of individuality, we transcend mere security measures; we create digital fortresses that shield us from the persistent barrage of cyber risks.

In a world where our lives are increasingly intertwined with technology, taking the time to craft impervious passwords is an investment in our own digital safety. Let the knowledge gained here empower you to assert confidently: “I never forget my passwords. My passwords are unique to each of my logins. My passwords are virtually impossible to hack.” After all, in the realm of digital security, it’s not just about passwords – it’s about peace of mind.