Contributed by Jen Ulrich
Answers To Organizing
Creating Passwords for Safe Computing
We all know how important it is to create passwords that are not easy to crack. That means no pet names, social security numbers, birthdates of your kids, and so forth. So, how do you create a clever character string that has the appearance of randomness, yet is easy to remember?
Well, this month’s tip comes from one of my clients, “JT,” who shared the following advice which I’ve expanded upon a bit:
- First, select a favorite song/hymn title of at least 3-4 words in length. Example: “Cry Me A River”
- Now, pick just the first letter of each word. For this example, that would be “cmar”
- Next, pick a 3-4 digit number that has meaning only to you. It could be your ideal weight, the sum of your children’s birth years (1984, 1988, 1991 = 5963), or perhaps four sequential numbers from your library card. What we’re looking for here is something seemingly random, yet meaningful to you.
- Finally, combine characters from steps 2 and 3 above for your password. Example: “cmar5963”
Not into music? Then try a favorite book title, your unique number, and the initials of the book’s author. Example: “In A Sunburned Country,” by Bill Bryson, would turn into “iasc5963bb” – looks random, but it really has meaning – to you. (By the way, this book is a fascinating and funny true story of Bryson’s travels in Australia.)
To test out the effectiveness of these character strings for security purposes, try deciphering the following (the answer key is at the end of this article):
dccd5963 or dc5963cd
My special thanks to JT for teaching me something new, effective and fun. Hope this makes your computing easier, safer, and of course, more organized. And if you have a favorite trick or tip you’d like to share with others on how you organize yourself, please let me know.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
How Great Thou Art song title
As Time Goes By song title
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