I know this article is basic knowledge and most of you will go "Duh!" But given the fact that the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company just told me she uses her first name plus birth date as her sole password everywhere on the net, I feel this reminder is necessary.
Here's how to come up with a fail-safe, unhackable password you will never forget.
1. Think of a phrase.
Something very close to your life and personal circumstances, which contains at least one number and one capitalized word, say,
"My husband was born 1957 in Denver"
"I live in Europe, 15 km east of Amsterdam"
"I always buy milk from K-Mart on 7th Street"
A passphrase like this is almost impossible to forget. And it's easy to type even blind. You can use it for all your life. Just make sure it's at least 7 words long. Most systems don't accept shorter passwords.
2. Use the initials of every word in the phrase, plus the numbers.
"My husband was born 1957 in Denver" becomes "Mhwb57iD"
"I live in Europe, 15 km east of Amsterdam" becomes "IliE15kmeoA"
"I always buy milk from K-Mart on 7th Street" becomes "IabmfK7s"
Now while "I live in Europe, 15 km east of Amsterdam" makes perfect sense to you, "IliE15eoA" looks like a random combination of letters of numbers. No one can guess this combination, and even the best algorithm would need millennia to crack it. But you can make it even safer.
3. Add a special character, like - or +
"Mhwb57iD" -> "Mhwb57iD+"
"IliE15kmeoA" -> "IliE15kmeoA-"
4. Finally, add the first two letters of the website where you are using it.
on Amazon, use "Mhwb57iD+am"
on Facebook "Mhwb57iD+FB"
on Twitter "Mhwb57iD+Tw" and so on.
My personal rule here is, if the website sounds like two words, I use the cap initials of each word, therefore "FB" for FaceBook, not Fa, whereas for one-word names I use the first two letters, like "am" for "Amazon". It's more intuitive.
You can make slight changes to these rules, but if you stick to the concept, you will have a password which a) you will never forget, b) works on 99% of websites and applications, and c) is impossible to guess or crack. Voilà!
Martin Hiesboeck is a leading international branding and corporate strategy consultant. He is currently the director of digital marketing at Taiwan's leading brand internationalization agency, Geber Consulting (Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook) He works mainly with companies developing international brands and guides multinational companies on their journey in the Asian marketplace. A sought-after keynote speaker in both Chinese and English, he also teaches university courses in branding and digital marketing.