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How to Create Safer Passwords: A Simple Formula

November 11, 2010  

As B2B sales teams scour the Web for prospects, signing in at countless sites and social communities to generate leads, the creation of secure yet memorable passwords takes on a whole new level of importance. The challenge we all face these days, notes Scott Sears in a recent post at the Emma blog, is "creating passwords that are both hard to guess and easy to remember."

Lucky for us, Sears offers a few tips that "security-minded geeks like me use to create effective passwords that are both memorable and strong." Among them:

Create a base word by using one of the following ideas:

  • String together the first letters of a familiar group of words. Song lyrics, poems and famous quotes work great.
  • Connect small, unrelated words together.

Modify that base word by using some of the following ideas:

  • Capitalize a few letters, while leaving the rest lowercase.
  • Substitute numbers and symbols for similar-looking letters.
  • Add some symbols to the beginning or end of the word.

Sears offers an example of how this system might work:

  • String "bat," "toe" and "up" together to create the base word: battoeup
  • Capitalize some letters (O and P): battOeuP
  • Substitute some numbers and symbols (a=@, t=7): b@77OeuP
  • And add a symbol (!) to finish the password: b@77OeuP!

Too daunting? Sears is reassuring: "If you always use consistent modifications, you'll be able to remember how to reform the password," he explains. For instance, you could always capitalize the third and last letter of your base word and always substitute @ for a, or 7 for t.

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